Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) released the following statement today in observance of the 35th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Originally passed in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, IDEA provides state and local funding for special education and related services for students with disabilities and guarantees them access to public education.
"In the 35 years since IDEA was first passed, the academic performance of our children with disabilities has improved greatly, providing them greater opportunities for success," said Dodd. "This week, we recognize the accomplishments that our students with disabilities have achieved and the progress they continue to make. To ensure that our children with disabilities continue to grow academically, we must keep our original promise of funding IDEA. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to make the more than 6.9 million students with disabilities in America a top priority and fully fund IDEA during the next Congress."
Currently, the federal government does not meet the goal it set in 1975 to fund 40 percent of states' special education costs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a one-time investment, which increased federal funding to 34 percent. However, federal funding has otherwise never exceeded 18 percent.
Throughout his career, Dodd has been a strong advocate for children with disabilities. He has consistently called for full funding of IDEA to offset the costs for states and taxpayers and to provide greater educational opportunities for our students with disabilities. Last month, Dodd cosponsored a bipartisan resolution recognizing the 35th anniversary of IDEA which was agreed to unanimously. Dodd also authored the Combating Autism Act and introduced the Best Buddies Empowerment for People with Disabilities this Congress.