Schools and states across the country have been faced with devastating budget cuts over the last several years. On top of those cuts, the federal government has had a hard time making a budget deal that everyone can agree to. This resulted in sequestration (or forced budget cuts) and a government shutdown a few years ago, plus stagnant budgets for many government programs over the last couple years.
This year, Congress is trying to do things right by agreeing on a budget and passing a law that would set new funding amounts for the nation’s education programs. The House bill has made its way out of subcommittee and it still has a long way to go in this process. But what we’re seeing in the budget is not all good news for education.
What’s At Stake This Year?
Overall, the bill would cut funding for education by $2.8 billion, a larger cut than we experienced in the 2013 sequestration. While some programs would get a boost in funding, many would not, and 20 programs would actually be eliminated.
Here are three specific ways the bill could affect your child:
1. Increased Special Education services
The proposed education appropriations bill would increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by $500 million. Although this amount is still far below the funding level that Congress originally promised when the law was passed, the increase would allow schools to better-serve their students who have been identified as having a learning disability (LD) or other disability under IDEA.
2. Fewer services for all students
Unfortunately, not all students with learning and attention issues receive services under IDEA. Instead, they rely on programs designed to help all learners such as the Striving Readers program, the School Improvement Grants (SIG), Investing in Innovation (i3), Preschool Development Grants, and the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grants. Since students with learning and attention issues/LD are in general education classrooms, the elimination of these programs would be take away much-needed funding and services that support the healthy growth and development of all children.
3. Fewer services for Twice Exceptional students
Students who are both gifted/talented and learning disabled –referred to as “twice exceptional” – often take advantage of high-level or accelerated courses. This is why NCLD advocated for the inclusion of the Javitz Gifted and Talented program and the Advanced Placement program during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). But their inclusion in ESEA will only matter if Congress continues to fund the Javitz and Advanced Placement programs.
Although this appropriations bill was passed by the subcommittee, it is likely to be modified as it moves forward. NCLD has sent a letter to the committee, urging them to invest in our children. As the bill moves through the committee and House floor next Tuesday (6/23), it is important that representatives hear from parents whose children would be directly affected by decreased funding or elimination of these education programs. You can find your representative by following this link and entering your zip code. For real time updates through this budget process, you can also follow us on Twitter @LD_Advocate.