February 8. 2022

Senator Patty Murray

Chairwoman, LHHS Subcommittee

U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Senator Roy Blunt

Ranking Member, LHHS Subcommittee

U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Representative Rosa DeLauro

Chairwoman, LHHS Subcommittee

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Representative Tom Cole

Ranking Member, LHHS Subcommittee

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chairwoman Murray, Ranking Member Blunt, Chairwoman DeLauro, and Ranking Member Cole:

 

The undersigned organizations represent a coalition of education and disability organizations dedicated to fulfilling the funding promise for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). On behalf of over 7.2 million students with disabilities, their teachers, specialized instructional support personnel, parents, school boards and administrators, we urge you to provide the maximum increase possible in funding for IDEA as part of a fair and proportional allocation for the final Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 LHHS-Education appropriations bill. Last June, we wrote to ask you provide no less than $15.5 billion for IDEA Part B, $598 million for Part B Section 619, $732 million for IDEA Part C, $300 million for IDEA Part D and $70 million for the National Center for Special Education Research, putting IDEA on a glidepath to full funding.

 

FY22 started on October 1, and while Congress has yet to finalize the FY22 appropriations process, a federal shutdown has been avoided through a series of continuing resolutions. The current resolution is set to expire on February 18. We strongly support your work to complete the appropriations process in normal order; we are opposed to the use of a year-long continuing resolution (CR) to conclude the FY22 work.

 

Since its inception in 1975, IDEA has protected students with disabilities by ensuring access to a free appropriate public education.  At the time the statute was enacted, Congress promised to pay 40 percent of the National Average per Pupil Expenditure. While funding to support students with disabilities has received significant increases over the past 17 years, federal funding has leveled off recently and has even been cut. IDEA is currently funded at $12.76 billion. This funding level equates to approximately 13.23 percent of what is historically considered the additional cost of educating students with disabilities. The closest the federal government has come to reaching its 40 percent commitment was 18 percent in 2005.

 

The proposed FY22 increases represent the single-largest funding increase through annual appropriations process and would help reverse a more than 15-year-long trend of declining federal share. The timing of these increases couldn’t be more critical: The chronic underfunding of IDEA by the federal government places an additional burden on states, local school districts, and taxpayers to pay for special education services. This compounds the existing pressure already placed on local budget dollars to cover the federal shortfall and will further shortchange other school programs that are also beneficial to students with disabilities.

 

We are at a unique point in the history of IDEA funding, with the President, Senate and House all having adopted budget proposals that include a meaningful $2.5 billion increase in IDEA.  These investments are as critical as ever, as school districts work to ensure appropriate and equitable implementation of IDEA. We support a prioritized and meaningful investment in IDEA, without negatively impacting funding for other education programs, and oppose a year-long CR. We urge Congress to ensure a significant increase for IDEA as you negotiate the final FY22 appropriations bill.

 

Sincerely,

 

AASA, The School Superintendents Association

The Advocacy Institute

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

American Federation of Teachers

American Music Therapy Association

American Psychological Association

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Association of Educational Service Agencies

Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO)

The Arc of the United States

Autism Society of America

Coalition for Adequate Funding for Special Education

Council for Exceptional Children

Council of Administrators of Special Education

Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE)

Los Angeles Unified School District

Moms Of Black And Brown Children

National Association for Pupil Transportation

National Association of School Psychologists

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National Center for Learning Disabilities

National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities

National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

National Down Syndrome Congress

National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium

National Rural Education Association

National School Boards Association

Pennsylvania School Boards Association

San Diego Unified School District

Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children (TED)

CC:           U.S. Senate, Appropriations Subcommittee

                U.S. House of Representatives, Appropriations Subcommittee