Letter to Senator Harkin Thanking him for Introducing the IDEA Full Funding Act
July 20, 2011
Dear Senator Harkin:
On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to thank you for your leadership in introducing the IDEA Full Funding Act. We are pleased to offer our support for this important legislation, which would make funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandatory and put it on a path toward full funding.
As you know, for too long, Congress has failed to live up to its commitment to fund 40 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure of every child in special education. Outside of the historic infusion of funds included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal government has never come close to meeting its commitment, not even reaching 20 percent in three decades. This continued underfunding — in combination with current state fiscal crises — forces school districts to either raise taxes or dip into general education budgets to make up for the shortfall, thereby cutting other critical services.
Your bill recognizes that schools and the students they serve cannot afford to wait any longer for the relief they so desperately need. It will help take pressure off of state and local budgets already stretched thin and free up funding for other priorities. It is time for Congress to live up to its promise by fully funding IDEA.
We thank you again for your leadership on this critical matter and your unparalleled support of public education.
Director of Government Relations
Manager of Federal Advocacy