Supporters of IDEA 'Full-Funding' Try Again With New Bill
A group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers reintroduced a bill on Jan. 27 that would require the federal government to pay for 40 percent of the "excess costs" of students with disabilities, the latest attempt to get more money to schools for students with disabilities.
Democratic sponsors of the "IDEA Full Funding Act" are Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, David McKinley of West Virginia, Tim Walz of Minnesota, and Jared Huffman of California. The Republican sponsors are Chris Gibson of New York and Dave Reichert of Washington state.
Back in 1975, when the law that was to become the Individuals with Disabilities Act was first proposed, Congress said it would pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities. But the federal contribution to special education costs has never exceeded 18.5 percent, and the current $11.5 billion federal contribution to special education counts for about 16 percent of the total cost of educating students with disabilities.
Previous versions of this bill have not passed (including a bill introduced last year by the same group of congressmen) but this time around, supporters have a stated advocate in Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee. In an interview with Education Week last year, Kline said that more money for special education was a priority for him. At that time, he said that he would like to see the federal government reach the 40 percent bar sometime in the next three to five years.
"I think we can set it on path," Kline said back in March. "That will be a good debate to have."