As the Center has documented at length, students with disabilities—especially those who typically receive one-on-one, in-person supports—are particularly vulnerable to the educational disruptions of COVID-19. While many schools are rising to this challenge, resource shortages are a growing barrier for many districts.
States need additional education funding now—and the Center applauds a new federal funding request from a group of Democratic senators led by Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.
The request, submitted to the Senate on May 5th, calls for the next COVID-19 stimulus package to include $11 billion in new funding for state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) Part B, as well as $500 million for IDEA Part C and $400 million for IDEA Part B Section 619 for pre-school programs. The senators also support expanded funding for IDEA Part D for professional development as well as the Assistive Technology Act.
The funds will be used not only to maintain remote learning during school closures but also to assess student progress and provide educational services as needed once students return to a brick and mortar setting.
“This much-needed funding will help teachers quickly acquire the skills and technology they need to effectively educate students with disabilities remotely,” says Wendy Tucker, the Center’s senior policy director. “The way we educate has changed overnight, and we encourage the federal government to act fast to support our most vulnerable students and their teachers. And, as we have repeatedly emphasized through our Equity Coalition’s Principles of Equitable Schools, all public funding devoted to educating students with disabilities must be coupled with the protections contained in the Individuals with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.”
The Center urges Congress to take up this proposal and protect the educational progress of students with disabilities during this unprecedented crisis. Contact your Senator today to express your support for this essential funding.