WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) joined his bipartisan colleagues in introducing the IDEA Full Funding Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to finally ensure Congress' commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In 1975, Congress passed IDEA to ensure that every child with a disability has access to educational opportunity. This law was a historic step forward, but since its passage Congress has failed to provide the funding promised under this bill.

Under the 1975 IDEA legislation, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. However, that pledge has never been met, and current funding is at just 154.7 percent. According to the National Education Association, the IDEA shortfall last year nationwide was $23.58 billion. The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular increases in IDEA spending to finally meet our commitment to America's children and schools.

“It’s time for Congress to fulfill its promise to fully fund IDEA to ensure that children with disabilities have access to a quality education,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to support this long-overdue legislation which will fully fund special education services in schools across the country, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to push this bipartisan effort across the finish line.”

The legislation is co-led in the House by Representatives Jared Huffman, Glenn “GT” Thompson, Kurt Schrader, John Katko, Joe Neguse, Dean Phillips, and David McKinley. It is cosponsored by Representatives James Langevin, Gerald E. Connolly, Albio Sires, Jenniffer González-Colón, Pete Stauber, Marilyn Strickland, Angie Craig, Jamie Raskin, Jahana Hayes, and Chellie Pingree.

The legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Jon Tester, Maggie Hassan, Bob Casey, Tina Smith, Mazie Hirono, Jack Reed, Richard Blumenthal, Tim Kaine, Dick Durbin, Ben Cardin, Sherrod Brown, Catherine Cortez Masto, Cory Booker, Ben Ray Lujan, Elizabeth Warren, Jeanne Shaheen, Ed Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Ron Wyden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Debbie Stabenow, Alex Padilla, Robert Menendez, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Murphy, and Gary Peters.

“All Oregonians deserve access to a quality education that prepares them to meet challenges and have a successful future. Unfortunately, Congress has failed time and again to fully fund our share of the IDEA Act under the law, leaving our local school districts and states struggling to make up the required difference. This coalition of members has been successful over the past few years in getting more funding, but it’s not nearly enough for what’s needed,” said Rep. Schrader. “That’s why I am proud to join this bipartisan effort to pass the IDEA Full Funding Act to make sure we finally pay what we said we would. By freeing up state education dollars, our educators will be able to provide for other programs and ensure educational opportunities for all students with disabilities.”

“More than 40 years ago, the federal government committed to sharing the cost of education with states for individuals with special needs. However, the federal portion of these funds remains drastically lower than the original commitment, placing budgetary challenges before local school districts,” said Rep. Thompson. “The IDEA Full Funding Act reaffirms our promise and fully funds IDEA over the next 10 years. This worthy investment will help schools better prepare students with disabilities for future employment and an opportunity for independent living.”

“In America, the promise of quality public education should be extended to all children,” said Rep. Phillips. “For 40 years, students and schools have waited as Congress failed to deliver on this unfunded mandate. I urge more of my colleagues in both chambers and parties to join us in supporting the IDEA Full Funding Act to relieve financial burden from families and schools and to ensure a world class education for all students.”

“Education is a top priority for West Virginia families and is critically important that every student’s individual needs are met and they have the resources and opportunities they need to succeed. I’m pleased to support the bipartisan legislation to finally fully fund the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that was originally enacted in 1975, so that we keep the promise we made to students with special needs and their parents,” said Rep. McKinley.

 “Across our district, as I sit down with teachers, school board members and education advocates, the need for increased IDEA funding is a resounding request,” said Rep. Neguse. “Full IDEA funding is essential to ensuring that students with disabilities can fully access quality education and have every opportunity to succeed. That is why I’m proud to lead on this bipartisan, bicameral initiative to ensure that the federal government holds up their end of the bargain to fully fund this program and to ensure that children with disabilities are able to live up to their full potential.”

“Many students with disabilities depend on specialized programing and instruction,” said Rep. Katko. “For this reason, I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing a bipartisan, bicameral bill that fully funds programs administered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This effort is essential to maintaining educational opportunities for children with disabilities, and keeping Congress’s promise to educators and families across the country.”

This legislation is supported by AASA – The School Superintendent Association, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Exceptional Children, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Education Association, National PTA and a diverse group of over 90 national organizations, including: Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy; American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; American Atheists; American Federation of School Administrators; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Music Therapy Association; American Occupational Therapy Association; American Physical Therapy Association; American Psychological Association; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; American Therapeutic Recreation Association; ASCD; ASCD Alabama; Arizona ASCD; CA ASCD; CO ASCD; FASCD; Hawaii ASCD; Illinois ASCD; Indiana ASCD; Iowa ASCD; Massachusetts ASCD; Michigan ASCD; NMASCD; OhioASCD; Virginia ASCD; Washington State ASCD – WSASCD; Assistive Technology Industry Association; Association of Assistive Technology Act Program; Association of Educational Service Agencies; Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents; Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE); Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO); Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD); Autism Society of America; Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law; Brain Injury Association of America; CAST; Center for Learner Equity; Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder ; Coalition for Adequate Funding for Special Education; CommunicationFIRST; Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf; Council for Learning Disabilities; Council of Administrators of Special Education; Council of Chief State School Officers; Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates; Council of the Great City Schools; Cure SMA; Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund; Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Easterseals; EDGE Consulting Partners; Education Reform Now; Fulfill the Promise Coalition; Green Dot Public Schools ; Higher Education Consortium for Special Education; Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium; Learning Disabilities Association of America; Madison Teachers Inc.; Madtown Mommas & Disability Advocates; Moms Of Black And Brown Children; National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; National Association for Music Education; National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities; National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA); National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC); National Association of School Psychologists; National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE); National Association of State Head Injury Administrators; Center for Youth Law; National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPEID); National Disability Rights Network; National Down Syndrome Congress; National Down Syndrome Society; National Indian Education Association (NIEA); National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium; National Rural Education Association; National School Boards Association; National Superintendents Roundtable; Oakland Education Association; Promote Inclusion Books; RespectAbility; ROSLA; School Social Work Association of America; Teach For America; Teach Plus; Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children ; The Advocacy Institute; The Arc of the United States; UnidosUS; Union for Reform Judaism; and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA).

“We have never provided adequate resources for schools and educators to support students with disabilities. The pandemic has only exacerbated the longstanding injustices our community faces. It’s time to act now,” said Lindsay E. Jones, National Center for Learning Disabilities President and CEO. “We thank these Members of Congress for their leadership and urge swift action so that the commitment to students with disabilities and their families is finally met.”

Text of the IDEA Full Funding Act can be found here.