In 1975 Congres passed a law guaranteeing students with disabilities a free, appropriate public education. They promised to pay 40% of the surplus cost for educating these students. They have never provided even half of what they had promised. That's 37 years of broken promises.
Students with disabilities have much lower graduation rates and employment prospects than their peers. In California, for example, a little less than half of students with disabilities have been able to pass the high school exit exam and only 34% are employed after they leave high school. The lack of federal funding means that local school districts must pay for special education programs out of general funds. That hurts all students.
Exemplary programs make it clear that students with disabilities can learn and lead and productive lives. Without proper education and support, these kids wind up in need of public assistance. Worse yet, many get caught up in the criminal justice system. With the right resources, this tragic waste of human resources can be averted.
CONGRESS MUST ACT
The time to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) has come. We urge Congress to act now. These kids do not belong to somebody else, they belong to all of us. We all have an obligation to do the best we can to see that all our kids reach their full potential. Now that's a good IDEA.
Fully fund special education.
Students with disabilities struggle with learning. They have much lower graduation rates than their typically developing peers. Programs to support them have never been funded at the 40% level by the federal government since the original law was passed in 1975. The mandate to provide these students with a "free, appropriate public education" persists. As a consequence, state and local school districts are having to utilize more and more of their general funds to fulfill the mandate. In a time of decreasing resources to support public schools the impacts on all students is devastating.
Outcomes for students with disabilities are not good. In California, for example, students with disabilities fail to pass the required California High School Exit Exam at around the 50% level. After these students leave school their employment rate is a dismal 34%. This is a national disgrace. Special education has never been adequately funded and the same may be said of general education. You get what you pay for and Congress has not paid what they promised for 37 years. All of out students suffer as a result of this neglect.
This is a bipartisan issue. Disabilities effect families of Republicans, Democrats and Independents without regard to party affiliation. These are not somebody else's kids, they are our kids and we all have an obligation to do the best we can to help them reach their full potential.
Tell Congress to fulfill it's obligation to fully fund special education.