What is IDEA?
IDEA stands for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was passed in 1975 as Public Law 94-142. It guaranteed a free and appropriate education to each child with a disability in every state and locality across the country. The law covers all children from ages 3 to 21. The law was revised in 1990 and then again in 2004. For a full briefing on the 2004 revisions, please see the report issued by Ron Wenkart, Chief Legal Counsel of the Orange County Department of Education.
Originally, the federal government agreed to provide 40% of the national average cost per pupil by the year 2015. Unfortunately, this has never happened.
To date, Congress has only provided up to 17% of the national average cost per pupil for IDEA. Many local school districts suffer greatly from the encroachment. Orange County school districts alone have a cost deficit of over $500 million when it comes to funding IDEA.
However, there are currently two bills going through Congress that would help schools across the country meet these extra expenses.
Senate Bill 1652, (S.1652) introduced by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) is known as the "IDEA Full Funding Act," and would help provide full funding to local school districts for IDEA.
House of Representatives Bill 3578, (H.R. 3578) titled, "Everyone Deserves Unconditional Access to Education," or EDUCATE Act, was introduced by Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Todd Platts (R-PA), and Tim Walz (D-MN) to help fully fund IDEA on the House side.
Both of these bills will help schools across the country close the cost deficits associated with IDEA. The National School Boards Association has asked that you contact your Senator and Representative and let them know you support these bills. To find your Representative, click here, then type your zip code in on the left hand side of the page.