Broken Promises: The Underfunding of IDEA

Posted by National Council on Disability on February 19, 2018

The National Council on Disability (NCD) is pleased to submit this report titled Broken Promises: The Underfunding of IDEA. This report is part of a five-report series on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that examines the past-to-current funding levels for all parts of the IDEA, analyzes the impact that the lack of full-funding has had on states in meeting their obligations to provide a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities, and provides recommendations regarding future funding. As you know, the right of students with disabilities to receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment is solidly rooted in the guarantee of equal protection under the law granted to all citizens under the Constitution. Over the past 42 years, the Federal Government has recognized and supported this right through providing billions of dollars in special education funding to assist the states in meeting their responsibilities in this area. NCD has repeatedly called on Congress to fully fund IDEA. The Federal Government’s failure to meet its promised funding obligation has stressed many state and local budgets to the point where many districts routinely struggle to meet student needs. In 1975, Congress promised to cover 40 percent of the average cost to educate a child with disabilities. Congress later amended the law to say that the Federal Government would pay a “maximum” of 40 percent of per-pupil costs. Today, the Federal Government pays less than half of what it originally promised in 1975.

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