by Lauren Morando Rhim
Charter schools, similar to traditional public schools, will continue to struggle to provide FAPE absent adequate funding. Senator Harkin introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act earlier this week and The Center for Learner Equitysubmitted the following letter supporting the legislation.
September 9, 2014
The Honorable Tom Harkin
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Harkin:
The mission of The Center for Learner Equity (The Center for Learner Equity) is to advocate for students with diverse learning needs to ensure that if they are interested in attending charter schools, they are able to access and thrive in schools designed to enable all students to succeed. We are writing to offer our strong support for the IDEA Full Funding Act. We applaud your leadership on this important legislation that will enable students, teachers, specialized support personnel, local communities and states to fulfill the promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
As you know, IDEA provides appropriate supports and services for the approximately 6 million children and youth with disabilities and their families across the nation. IDEA ensures that students with disabilities make progress and achieve ever increasing outcomes and opportunities. As a result, each year more students graduate from high school with regular diplomas, enter into post-secondary education and the workforce and live full and enriching lives. Yet, despite this progress, students with disabilities continue to lag disproportionately behind their peers which results in far too many not graduating high school, receiving career training, entering college and working in integrated and competitive employment. Fully funding IDEA will greatly assist schools in providing much needed services and supports to help close this gap.
When Congress passed IDEA in 1975, it committed the federal government to helping to ensure that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education by funding 40 percent of the additional cost to educate IDEA-eligible students. To date, the federal government has never fulfilled its commitment to fully fund the IDEA. In fact, it’s never covered more than 16 percent of these costs. This lack of federal investment, in combination with the recent education budget cuts at the state and local level has made it increasingly difficult for schools and early education programs to continue to provide the services that young children and youth with disabilities need and to which they are legally entitled. These realities have a particular impact on charter schools that generally receive approximately 80 percent of the funding of traditional public schools. Funding for IDEA helps foster excellence for all students. In this vulnerable economy, every school in the nation needs more IDEA funding.
Thank you again for your introduction of this important legislation. We support the IDEA Full Funding Act and stand ready to assist you in any way possible.
Lauren Morando Rhim, Ph.D.