Smith, Klobuchar help introduce bill to increase special education funding
Last week, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, D-Minn., advocated for stronger investments in schools across the country by helping introduce the Keep Our Promise to America's Children and Teachers Act, which look to increase funding special education and making sure every child has access to quality education.
"A high-quality education should be the basic right of every child, no matter where they live or how they learn," Klobuchar stated in a news release. "Every student deserves fair and equal access to the best education possible, and Congress has an obligation to fulfill its promise to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—this bill will ensure that we don't let our students down."
"Schools that work for all students, no matter where you live, is one of the most important investments we can make. They help keep our communities and our economy strong, but only if we make the important and necessary investments to support them," Smith stated in the release. "When I hear from educators, administrators and parents, so often they express concern about how school budgets in Minnesota are being squeezed by the federal government not holding up its end of the bargain on funding. This legislation would make sure Congress follows through on our commitment to support schools and help all students reach their full potential."
According to the rease, the Keep Our Promise to America's Children and Teachers Act led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., —would put Congress on a fiscally-responsible path to meet its obligation to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act on a mandatory basis over the next 10 years.
Title I, which gives assistance to America's highest-need schools, is a critical tool to ensure that every child, no matter the ZIP code, has access to a quality education. However, it has been deeply underfunded, shortchanging students living in poverty. Similarly, IDEA calls on the federal government to fund 40 percent of the cost of special education, but Congress does not fully funded the law. Due to this funding gap, Minnesota was short changed $427 million in federal IDEA funding in 2017-2018. And according to Minnesota Education Department data, the difference between the costs and funding that districts have to make up in Minnesota was $724 million in 2019 and could grow to $858 million by 2023.