Statement by CEC President Robin D. Brewer on President Obama’s State of the Union Speech and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ Republican Response
As the country tuned into the President’s State of the Union speech and the response by House Republican Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, we are all reminded of the critical role education plays in achieving the American Dream.
From the first sentence of the President’s speech recounting the dedication of teachers who spend extra time with students to his renewed commitment of expanding preschool opportunities for every 4-year-old, CEC commends President Obama for his continued emphasis of how education creates opportunity for all Americans.
As we continue this national dialogue about expanding opportunities for all young children, we remind policymakers that Federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s early learning programs have remained largely stagnant for years. Because of the increase in enrollment in IDEA’s infants and toddlers with disabilities program there has been a 34 percent decrease in funding per child from 1992-2012.
Further bringing the needs of young children with disabilities to the national spotlight, Congresswoman McMorris-Rodgers’s personal story of her 6-year-old son, Cole, who reads above grade level and has Down Syndrome, brings pride to special educators. CEC members know how important it is to couple high-expectations for children with disabilities and high-quality intervention services as early as possible. Ensuring young children with disabilities are part of this national conversation has been – and will continue to be – a top CEC priority.
Students like Cole, their families and educators rely on a healthy IDEA investment to ensure that high-quality services are provided and legal mandates are met. To achieve this goal, CEC, together with a bi-partisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives, is calling on President Obama to increase the investment for IDEA.
Certainly, we know that children who are better prepared to thrive in school have greater opportunities for postsecondary and career paths. As the President and Vice-President move forward in leading an effort to match employer needs with employee skills, CEC urges the Administration to pay close attention to programs that will lower the unemployment rate of individuals with disabilities, currently at 12 percent, and support transition programs from school to the workforce for students with disabilities.
Supporting the educational needs of children and youth with disabilities is not only the law, but it is a moral imperative.