IDEA requires that students with disabilities be educated with students who are not disabled, unless the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in a regular classroom with supplemental aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. All children with disabilities must receive a free, appropriate education at public expense in the least restrictive environment possible.” – Connecticut Council for Education Reform 2016
The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975 was a landmark step forward in advancing the education of children often left behind in America’s public schools. Congress committed to funding a substantial percentage of the costs incurred by the states in providing special services to students with special needs.
Special Education, or “Special Ed,” as the program is often called, works wonders when used well. It makes sure that teachers and facilities are available to tailor individual learning pathways for students with special needs. It improves the lifetime outcomes and success for special needs students and improves the quality and safety of the school environment for both students and teachers.
The biggest thing holding back Special Ed from the level of success it could have today is funding. Congress should be paying 40% of the cost of Special Ed, but its funding levels normally average around 16%, far below what it should take to get all the programs and facilities Special Ed kids need. Experts say the federal government needs to add $17.6 billion to fully fund IDEA and adequately educate all of America’s disabled students.
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