Van Hollen Introduces Federal Bill to Fully Fund Special Education

Maryland U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Representative Jared Huffman of California have introduced a bill to require the federal government to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

New federal legislation titled the IDEA Full Funding Act would finally ensure Congress fulfills its commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In 1975, Congress passed IDEA to ensure that every child with a disability can access educational opportunities.

The law was a historic step forward; however, Congress has failed to fully fund IDEA since its passage. A press release reads:

Under IDEA, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. However, that pledge has never been met, and current funding is at less than 13 percent. According to the Congressional Research Service, the IDEA shortfall in the 2021-2022 school year nationwide was $23.92 billion. Under full funding, Maryland alone would have received $675 million – a gap of $407.7 million.

Part B and Part C of IDEA authorize assistance to States to support special education and related services to children with disabilities and the provision and coordination of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Maryland received $54 million to support students with disabilities as part of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

The IDEA Full Funding Act, introduced by Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and California’s Representative Jared Huffman, would require regular, mandatory increases in IDEA spending to “finally meet our obligation to America’s children and schools.” The bill is cosponsored by over 20 Senators and over 60 House members.

Senator Van Hollen has led the push to fully fund IDEA since 2005.

A press release from the Senator’s office notes that the legislation is supported by a broad and diverse group of over 60 national organizations, including:

  • the School Superintendent Association (AASA),
  • the American Federation of Teachers (AFT),
  • the Council for Exceptional Children,
  • the National Association of Elementary School Principals,
  • the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP),
  • the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and
  • the National Education Association.

The following Maryland-based organizations also support it:

  • AFT-MD,
  • Baltimore City Public Schools,
  • the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE),
  • the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals,
  • the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals,
  • the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), and
  • the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM).

Read the full press release.