Issue Position: Individuals With Disabilities Education Act
Access to a free, appropriate public education has helped open the doors of opportunity for millions of children with disabilities in the United States. Originally passed in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) helps individual states provide disabled children with a quality public education - just like other students. Despite its success, the level of funding for IDEA has fallen far short of what Congress promised when the program was enacted into law. This shortfall creates a burden for local communities and denies students opportunities for equal education.
Affording children with disabilities a public education in their communities has dramatically increased high school graduation and college enrollment rates among disabled students. The federal government must fulfill its obligation to ensure a free and appropriate public education for all children with disabilities.
* Six and a half million children with disabilities receive special education services.
* The 1975 law, at full funding, required Congress to provide 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for each child. However, the federal government has continually fallen short of the amount allocated to states to carry out the law (under 20 percent).