Although the 2012 Federal Fiscal Year began over the weekend, Congress has still not agreed on how much funding to allocate to education. In September, the Senate acted. But shortly thereafter, the process stalled. Right now, the government is operating under a short term measure called a continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government through November 18.
In the long term, while we know what the Senate is thinking – they level funded IDEA, providing a small increase for Part C. Then, last week, in a somewhat unusual move, Chairman of the Appropriations Labor Health and Human Services Subcommittee, Denny Rehberg (R-MT), released his proposal for funding education for the 2012 fiscal year – and while he doesn’t have the votes to pass it yet – he is proposing increasing funding for IDEA Part B Grants to states by $1.2 billion dollars – a 10.7% increase overall. No other IDEA programs would receive increases. He also proposed raising Title I funding by $1 billion. Unfortunately, his bill would also eliminate funding for 31 other education programs including Jacob Javits Gifted & Talented Students Programs, Elementary and Secondary School Counseling, Special Olympics, High School Graduation Initiative and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and all of President Obama’s signature programs including – Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation (known as i3), and Promise Neighborhoods.
The proposed $1.2 billion dollar increase for IDEA Part B Grants to States is needed and CEC applauds Chairman Rehberg for his acknowledgment of that need and his efforts to meet it. But we are concerned to see so many other important education programs recommended for elimination. As we all know, schools function as whole communities where general and special educators work side by side and all students learn together. Indeed, currently, more than 60% of students with disabilities spend 80% or more of their day in general education settings.
The need to fund IDEA – especially in these fiscally uncertain times is real and we hope Congress takes the recommendations for investment in IDEA seriously. But in reality we need investment throughout all of education to meet the needs of all students, families, educators and communities. So CEC urges all members of Congress to avoid cuts to education programs – heed the call for investment and expand it.
Want to tell Congress to invest more in education? Go to CEC’s Legislation Action Center and send a letter today!