PR_Strengthen and Enforce Civil Rights Laws and Invest in Public Schools_Info box

  1. Strengthen and enforce civil rights laws. Federal and state laws afford students with qualifying disabilities such as learning disabilities and ADHD rights and protections that must be maintained and enforced. These include the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE), access to the general education curriculum, and many other rights. Upholding federal protections and increasing investment in education are key to ensuring that students with learning and attention issues have every opportunity to succeed in school and in life.
    • IDEA was most recently updated in 2004 and may be updated again in the next few years. It is imperative that this law’s many essential legal protections for students with disabilities and their families remain strong.
    • ESSA aims to close achievement gaps and ensure equal access to education for historically disadvantaged groups of students, including students with disabilities. As states prepare and implement their accountability plans, strong oversight is critical to ensure that high expectations are set for students with disabilities.
  2. Invest in public schools and reject private school voucher proposals. Laws guaranteeing equal access and protecting the rights of students with disabilities are most effective when funding is provided to states, districts, and schools to uphold them. Programs such as Head Start and Medicaid and those funded through IDEA and ESSA must receive adequate funding to fully support the needs of students. But Congress keeps slashing the federal education budget, leaving states and local districts struggling to cover the shortfall. These budget cuts are exacerbated in several states by programs that divert public funding away from public schools and to private schools.”
    • Members of Congress have championed the IDEA Full Funding Act, which would provide the level of funding for special education that Congress promised when it passed the law in 1975. This funding is necessary if Congress is going to fulfill its commitment to the 6 million special education students and their families.
    • Any diversion of resources away from public schools—in the form of private school voucher programs or otherwise—is a disservice to children and families.
    • Schools and students rely on Medicaid to support necessary services. Any reduction in Medicaid funding will shift considerable costs to states and school districts that they cannot afford.
    • The Every Student Succeeds Act—our nation’s main education law—includes funding for many important programs that impact students with disabilities. To help achieve its mission of closing achievement gaps and supporting all students, ESSA—and the diverse programs it supports, from school accountability to access to mental health services—must be adequately funded.