With school districts and states struggling to provide services and supports for the nation’s 10 million children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents, CEC and its members have been actively advocating for increasing the investment in special and gifted education and eliminating the irresponsible cuts sequestration has – and will continue – to enforce.
Amid all the talk of more budget cuts, a glimmer of hope emerged yesterday when the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee – led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Ia.) voted to increase finding for many special and gifted education programs at the urging of CEC and its members.
In this budget climate, and at a time when funding increases are rare, CEC members were particularly effective in advocating for funding increases for IDEA’s early intervention program; IDEA’s grants to states to support school aged children; special education research; reviving the only federal program benefiting students with gifts and talents, the Javits Act; and fending off threats to cut IDEA’s personnel preparation program. Read CEC’s official statement on the bill.
Importantly, this legislation would eliminate sequestration – which has cut over $2 billion from education programs alone – and would restore funding to many programs to levels before sequestration took effect. Because of sequestration, special education programs have been cut by over $580 million. And if the law doesn’t change, we will continue to have severe sequestration cuts for the next 9 years.
Here’s a highlight of programs CEC is following:
- IDEA Grants to States for School Aged Students: Increase of $125 Million
- IDEA Early Intervention Program: Increase of $21 Million
- IDEA Preschool Program: Restores funding just shy of pre-sequestration level
- IDEA Part D Programs:
- State Personnel Development Grants: Restores funding just shy of pre-sequestration level
- Technical Assistance and Dissemination: Restores funding just shy of pre-sequestration level
- Personnel Preparation: Restores funding just shy of pre-sequestration level
- Parent Information Centers: Restores funding to pre-sequestration level
- Technology and Media Services: Restores funding just shy of pre-sequestration level
- Research in Special Education (National Center for Special Education Research): Increase of $20 million which restores the 30% funding cut NCSER incurred in FY 2011.
- Special education studies and evaluations: Restores funding to pre-sequestration level
- Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies: Increase of $125 Million
- School Counseling Program: Restores funding to pre-sequestration level
- Head Start: Increase of $1.6 Billion
- Preschool Development Grants: $750 Million for this newly proposed program
Tomorrow, the full Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on this legislation and then the full Senate will consider it at some point in the future. Join CEC in supporting increased funding!
However, the path forward is very uncertain as the House of Representatives is focused on keeping the cuts of sequestration as a starting point for additional cuts to education. In fact, the House approach may result in proposals that would further cut education programs by and additional $12.2 billion, brining federal support for education back to 2004 levels. CEC is concerned that such cuts would dramatically impact the ability of states and school districts to provide services for children and youth with disabilities, particularly as state and local budgets continue to suffer.
Take a minute to tell your Congressional delegation that you support increased funding for special end gifted education programs – not more cuts! Take action now!