On Tuesday, leaders from CEC’s grassroots advocacy network from across the nation joined together in Washington, DC to implore policymakers to invest in special and gifted education programs rather than cut nearly $1 Billion from special education programs.
Starting on January 2, 2013, $990 million will be cut from all programs within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act through a process called “sequestration” unless Congress acts to change this current law:
- IDEA Grants to States for school aged children (Part B) – Cut by $903 Million
- IDEA Preschool Grants (Part B sec. 619) – Cut by $29 Million
- IDEA Infants & Toddlers with Disabilities Program (Part C) – Cut by $35 Million
- IDEA National Support Programs (Part D) – Cut by $19 Million
- Special Education Research – Cut by $4 Million
CEC’s Children and Youth Action Network Coordinators (CAN) – CEC’s grassroots liaisons to each CEC state unit and division – explained to policymakers the significant impact this funding cut would have on children and youth with disabilities using data from a recent national survey and stories from their own hometowns. This recent survey of CEC members who are part of the Council for Administrators of Special Education (CASE), indicates that deep funding cuts would likely devastate local school districts’ ability to serve students with disabilities and mean more layoffs and less hiring.
According to the CEC/CASE Survey, if sequestration occurs:
- 81% Agree: There will be increased strain on the availability of services for students with disabilities.
- Over 95% Agree: There will be a hiring freeze and layoffs.
- 85% Agree: Their district will cut funding for purchase of resources including needed technology.
- 77% Agree: Their district will increase caseload.
- 79% Agree: Their district will reduce professional development.
CEC advocates’ message was clear: Congress must reject deep cuts to education programs, results would be devastating to children, schools and communities. But that wasn’t the advocate’s only message to Capitol Hill.
With the reauthorization – or rewriting – of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) long overdue and in legislative limbo due to the election season, advocates urged policymakers to better address the needs of students with disabilities and the professionals who work on their behalf in areas such as: assessments, accountability, evaluating teacher performance, among many other recommendations found here.
Advocates also urged for:
- Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which establishes international standards regarding the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities and a common basis for greater civic and political participation and self-sufficiency;
- Expanding the federal role of gifted and talented education;
- Supporting legislation to support the appropriate use of restraint and seclusion;
- Improving special education in charter schools;
- Opposing voucher programs; and
- Reauthorizating of the Workforce Investment Act: Priorities and Concerns for Students with Disabilities.
Advocacy works! Not only were advocates holding face-to-face meetings this week on Capitol Hill but thousands of special educators were taking action using CEC’s Legislative Action Center to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to increase funding for special and gifted education. This week, the Committee voted to increase special education programs by $130 million! While this approval marks a significant step in the legislative process, there is still much work to do as the House of Representatives gets underway. Stay tuned for more information next week!
CEC is extremely grateful to have dedicated grassroots advocates who take the time from their busy schedules to travel to Washington, DC. Look for photos and more info on the meeting in the coming days!
Interested in becoming more involved in CEC’s advocacy initiatives? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on our advocacy mailing list.