June Policy News Round-Up

LD Day of Action was a huge success; NCLD published a memo on AI policy solutions, and CEO Dr. Jacqueline Rodriguez went live with the U.S. Secretary of Education. Learn more about what NCLD did in June.

LD Advocates Take to Capitol Hill for LD Day of Action 

NCLD partnered with Eye to Eye National to bring 33 young adult advocates to Washington, D.C., for our annual LD Day of Action event on June 12 through 14. During the convening, advocates met with nearly 50 congressional offices to discuss issues impacting the disability community, including access to higher education, full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school discipline, participation in advanced coursework, and educator preparation and professional development. Advocates also heard from Assistant Secretary of Education Glenna Wright-Gallo and White House Director of Disability Policy Rachel Patterson, at a panel event on Capitol Hill led by alumni of NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council. 

House Appropriations Bill Sets Major Cuts to Education Funding

The House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) released its fiscal year (FY) 2025 appropriations bill in late June, with major proposed cuts to Department of Education programs. The bill proposes an overall 14% cut to the Department of Education, with funding for IDEA programs remaining relatively “flat” compared to last year’s appropriation. While special education programs were left somewhat unscathed by the cuts, the funding level proposed still does not come close to meeting Congress’s original promise of funding 40% of the costs associated with educating students with disabilities. Meanwhile, the appropriations bill proposes severe cuts to and eliminations for many essential educational programs that impact students both with and without disabilities, including a $4.7 billion (25%) cut to Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funding for low-income schools and no funding for ESEA Title II to support teacher professional development, alongside other programs. 

New Policy Solutions to Address Potential Misuse of Artificial Intelligence

To help address the serious policy questions posed by Artificial intelligence (AI), the Federation of American Scientists hosted an AI Legislation Policy Sprint to crowdsource, develop, and publish a set of creative AI-focused ideas that could be taken up by Congress. NCLD was one of only 15 proposals selected to develop policy memos from experts in AI across critical sectors such as healthcare, education, and research and development, addressing themes such as privacy, AI safety, workforce development, and responsible innovation. NCLD’s policy proposal focused on ensuring that students with disabilities are protected from harmful misuse of AI tools. The memo highlights a plan of action that includes: 

  1. Improving data collection; 
  2. Enhancing parental notification and ensuring a free and appropriate public education (FAPE); 
  3. Investing in USED’s Office for Civil Rights; 
  4. Supporting state and local education agencies with technical assistance. 

Learn more about the policy memo. 

NCLD’s CEO Joins U.S. Education Secretary for Washington Post Live

Dr. Jacqueline Rodriguez, chief executive officer,  joined U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Ford Foundation program officer Rebecca Cokley for a Washington Post Live webinar on “An Assessment of Disability Rights in the U.S. Schooling System.” During the program, panelists discussed how teacher shortages, the lasting impacts of the pandemic, and strains on classroom resources are profoundly impacting the 7 million American students with disabilities. A recording of the webinar and the event transcript are available on the Washington Post Live website. 

In Case You Missed It

  • The IDEA Full Funding Coalition held a virtual briefing on June 25 to stress the importance of full funding for special education programs. Watch a replay of the webinar.
  • A new report shows that several states are failing to meet special education requirements under IDEA based on a USED assessment. More details are to follow later this summer. 
  • Evidence continues to show the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students with disabilities. In Washington, new data shows that approximately 8,500 students were missed for special education referrals.