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.
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