Educators Call on Presidential Candidates to Commit to Properly Fund Individuals With Disabilities Education Act
As Presidential candidates head to Detroit this week for the next Democratic debate, educators from throughout the region are calling on candidates to commit to fulfilling the federal government’s long-broken promise to fully fund the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and give students with disabilities the opportunities that they deserve.
“There’s no question that schools across the nation, and particularly those here in Michigan, are not being funded properly and nowhere is that more clear than programs meant to help students with disabilities achieve their goals,” said Mark Greathead, Superintendent of Woodhaven-Browntown Schools and President of the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education. “The federal government made a commitment in 1975 to fully fund IDEA but has failed to fulfill that promise ever since. I am joining educators from across Michigan in asking these candidates for President to commit to fully funding this program at long last and giving these students the opportunities they deserve.”
Passed in 1975, IDEA required schools, for the first time, to identify students with disabilities and provide them with special education and related services that meet their unique needs. While the federal government had promised it would fully fund the program, it has never provided even half of the program’s annual costs. Congress currently is allocating only 16% of the funding needed to implement the program in Michigan while the State covers an additional 28%, leaving local school districts to cover the vast majority of special education costs from their existing budgets, diverting money away from other important programs and limiting the effectiveness scope of the special education services they can provide.
“The federal government’s failure to properly fund IDEA has hit school districts like Detroit, where these candidates will be debating this week, particularly hard due to its high percentage of special education needs and that deserves not only their attention, but their action,” added Greathead. “Educators are calling on the debate moderators to ask about, and candidates to commit to, fixing this ongoing failure of the federal government’s role in providing all of our students a quality education.”