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Kline: Prioritize Funding for Special Needs Students

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) today urged the Obama administration and House Appropriations Committee leadership to increase support for students with disabilities by prioritizing federal funding for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Following a hearing with Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the president’s budget and policy priorities for the Department of Education, Chairman Kline said, “Years ago the federal government pledged to provide critical support to special needs children, yet Republicans and Democrats alike have repeatedly failed to keep that promise. As I told Secretary Arne Duncan earlier today, parents and school leaders aren’t asking for new competitive grants or funding for duplicative early childhood programs – they’re begging for more support for the nation’s most vulnerable students. It’s time to reassess our priorities, and I am going to do everything in my power to advocate for a renewed federal commitment to children with disabilities.”

Chairman Kline also joined House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) in submitting a formal request for a $1.5 billion increase in IDEA Part B funding in the Fiscal Year 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, bringing the total funding to $13 billion.

In the letter, the members state:

Although our requested increase still falls short of the federal government’s commitment to special needs children, such a meaningful increase would generate significant new funding for all states and districts, giving policymakers and educators more freedom to use state and local funds to strengthen general and special education in their communities.

As our nation struggles with debt levels that have eclipsed the size of the entire U.S. economy, difficult choices must be made. We must stop wasting taxpayer dollars on new and ineffective programs and instead work toward meeting our basic obligation to ensure special needs children are prepared for success after high school. We urge you to renew Congress’s commitment to these students, their families, and their educators.

To read the letter, click here. To view a chart illustrating how the requested increase in funding would help school districts, click here.

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