[int-per] IDEA Funding Coalition call for full funding
Thu, 13 Mar 2003 09:50:55 -0800
FYI. A policy paper from the national IDEA Funding Coalition. (see last
page for members.)
[Since the formatting of the document didn't translate well into this text
message, I'll send as an attachment also for those of you who can receive
IDEA Funding: Time for a New Approach
Mandatory Funding Proposal
IDEA Funding: Time for a New Approach
Mandatory Funding Proposal
In 1975, our country took a major step forward in promoting the inclusion
and equality of one of our most disenfranchised groups of citizens. Passage
of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (now known as the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), assured that all children with
disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education.1 More than six
million children with disabilities are no longer limited by their families'
ability to afford private education; they are no longer forced to attend
costly state institutions, or worse, stay home and miss out entirely on the
benefits of an education. IDEA ensures that children with disabilities may
attend public schools alongside their peers. There is no question about it:
students, schools, and communities are enriched when all children have a
right to a free, appropriate public education.
November 2002 marked the 27th anniversary of IDEA. Despite all that has been
accomplished on behalf of children with disabilities, much more remains to
be done. In the 27-year history of the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act, the federal contribution has always fallen far short of the
congressional commitment to fully fund IDEA. Local and state budgets have
been forced to absorb the shortfall.2 In the last several years Congress has
made significant progress, but IDEA appropriations still need a 119 percent
increase before IDEA is fully funded.3 After 27 years, the magnitude of that
shortfall demands a new approach. It is time to make special education
funding mandatory and deliver on a long overdue promise.
Basics of the Proposal:
* Make IDEA funding mandatory.
* Increase the federal contribution from 18 percent to 40 percent.
* Accomplish full funding gradually over six years.
* Require states to maintain their level of effort.
* Encourage schools to intervene early in a child's life and provide
developmentally appropriate programs and services. Developmentally
appropriate intervention during the early years would dramatically reduce
later referrals to special education and eventually help curb the costs of
What is full funding of IDEA?
Part B of IDEA originally authorized Congress to contribute up to 40 percent
of the average per pupil expenditure (APPE) for each special education
student.4 In 2003 the average per pupil expenditure is expected to be
$7,4025. With 6,580,000 students served under IDEA, schools are qualified to
receive $19.5 billion in federal funds. Unfortunately, schools are only
receiving $8.9 billion. In other words, schools are currently receiving
roughly 18 percent rather than the federal commitment of 40 percent of
APPE6. Although that is a significant sum, schools will spend more than
$92.5 billion on those students in the same year7. In addition, there are
different programs within IDEA that are funded individually and serve
specific purposes. For example, Part C of IDEA is designed to meet the
developmental needs of infants and toddlers and their families in order to
prevent later disabilities. These other parts are also under funded.
How close is the federal government to fully funding IDEA?
Federal funding is $10.6 billion short of full funding this year and would
need a 119% increase to be fully funded.8
How does the federal shortfall hurt school districts and students?
While much attention has been paid to rising federal expenditures for
special education over the past few years, new federal funding has not kept
pace with increasing costs at the local level. In fact, special education
costs for local school districts are rising substantially faster than new
federal funding. Even with recent increases in federal special education
funding over the past few years, the local financial burden has increased
from 39 percent of total spending to 45 percent during the same time
The federal government is shortchanging local school districts more than
$10.6 billion in FY2003 alone. If IDEA had been fully funded for the last 27
years, state and local governments would have saved $322 billion which would
have been available to increase teacher salaries, increase student
achievement or to purchase new computers and up-to-date textbooks. That $322
billion could have been used to build over 43,000 new elementary schools or
hire over 300,000 new teachers and other educators, which would have
resulted in a "highly qualified" workforce and led to increased student
According to the US Department of Education, "Historically, local
educational agencies have struggled with meeting the minimal education needs
of a growing population of children with disabilities".10
Why should the program be funded through mandatory spending instead of
For 27 years Congress has promised to fully fund IDEA, yet funding is
roughly 18 percent. At increases of $1 billion plus inflation (2.5%) per
year, Congress is on course to fully fund IDEA in FY 2035.11 School children
cannot wait another 33 years. IDEA services are required by federal law;
accordingly, the funding should be mandatory.
How will the proposal for mandatory expenditures solve the problem?
The proposal would gradually increase federal spending over the next six
years through annual increases of $2.52 billion per year over the next six
years. Funding for IDEA would be moved out of the discretionary portion of
the budget and into mandatory spending. This increase would raise the
federal share of APPE by an average of 3.6 percent each year.
Would mandatory funding relieve the funding burden on state and local
IDEA allows school districts a flexibility exception to the local
maintenance of effort, supplement not supplant and excess cost requirements
of IDEA. Specifically, the law and its implementing regulations state that
for any fiscal year in which the appropriation for Part B state grants
exceeds $4.1 billion (as it has since 1999), a school district may use up to
20 percent of the increase from the prior year's funding for local education
expenditures.12 However, the cost of IDEA is increasing so rapidly that many
districts are not able to take advantage of the flexibility. When IDEA
funding nears the 40 percent commitment, schools will finally be able to
free up local resources for its intended purposes. To this end, the proposal
requires that any local funds freed up by the new federal funds be spent on
other education programs and services.
How would the shift from discretionary funding to mandatory funding affect
other education programs and improve services for all students?
The shift from discretionary to mandatory funding is not intended to
negatively impact the availability of funds for other education programs.
Mandatory funding for IDEA would simply guarantee new funding each year
independent of discretionary spending constraints, moving the program toward
its statutory full funding total. It would free up crucial dollars at the
local level which would allow more dollars to be spent on programs that will
benefit all students, including disabled students, in the school. The IDEA
funding coalition agrees that it is important to increase funding in all
areas of education to meet growing demands.
What is the approximate cost of the full funding proposal?
For FY 2003 the federal share of Part B of IDEA is $8.9 billion. With full
funding, the federal investment would then increase to an estimated $23.9
billion a year by 2009.13 Fully funding IDEA by FY 2009 would cost
approximately $106 billion over the next 6 years.14 If IDEA funding were
frozen at current spending levels, federal funding over the next six years
would amount to $45.2 billion in expenditures.
Who supports mandatory full funding of IDEA?
In addition to the education groups that are part of this coalition,
mandatory full funding for IDEA enjoys broad bipartisan support. In
addition to our organizations, both the National Governors Association and
the National Conference on State Legislatures strongly support guaranteed
full funding. Currently, 35 states have passed state resolutions urging
Congress to fulfill its 40 percent commitment. In the 107th Congress, the
House had mandatory funding bills with cosponsors totaling over 120 Members;
while in the Senate, the Hagel - Harkin Mandatory funding amendment passed
overwhelmingly as part of the debate on No Child Left Behind.
This year offers the best opportunity to help IDEA.
There is no issue more fundamental to a successful reauthorization of IDEA
than guaranteed full funding. The failure of Congress to provide full
funding for the past 27 years has adversely impacted the ability of local
schools to provide quality educational services for all children. With
this year's reauthorization of IDEA, Congress has an opportunity to provide
the necessary resources for a successful implementation of IDEA. According
to the National Governors Association, states are experiencing budget
deficits expected to range close to $82 billion nationwide at the end of
this fiscal year. Given this situation, now, more than ever it is
imperative for Congress to meet this commitment. Students with disabilities
have a right to the same educational opportunities as all other students,
and the federal government has an obligation to pay for part of it. It's
past time to remove IDEA from the annual funding showdown and make good on a
27 year old promise.
1 See Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, 20 U.S.C. § 1400
2 Based on a 2002 study by the Special Education Expenditure Project,
Chambers, Parrish, et al, educating a special education student costs an
average of 1.9 times as much as a regular education student. As indicated in
Appendix I, FY2003 APPE is an estimated $7,402. Therefore, the excess cost
created by the average special education student is 1.9 times APPE, or
$6,662. With 6,580,000 children served by IDEA, each costing an average
excess $9,369, approximately $43 billion was spent on excess special
education costs in FY 2003. The federal share of $8.8 billion is only 18
percent of the excess cost of special education.
3 Current funding for IDEA is $8.88 billion. The FY2003 IDEA authorization
level was $19.48 billion (see appendix I). Therefore, the program is $10.6
billion short of full funding this year. A 119 percent increase is needed to
fully fund IDEA.
4 20 U.S.C. § 1411(a).
5 See Appendix I.
6 To calculate percentage of APPE funded by current law: (current
funding)/(APPE*Enrollment) or ($8.8 billion)/($7,402*6,580,000)= 18.00
7 Based on a 2002 study by the Special Education Expenditure Project,
Chambers, Parrish, et al, educating a special education student costs an
average of 1.9 times as much as a regular education student, or $14,063 per
pupil. With 6,580,000 students, that amounts to approximately $92.5 billion.
8 See Appendix I for difference between FY2002 Appropriation and FY2002
9 Parish, T. B. (2001). Who's paying the rising costs of special education?
Journal of Special Education Leadership, Vol. 11 (1). Council of
Administrators of Special Education.
10 Department of Education, Fiscal Year 2002 Justifications of Appropriation
Estimates to Congress, Volume 1.
11 Using conservative estimates, CRS has APPE inflationary growth at 2.5%
per year and the disabled child count at 1% growth. Based on a CRS report
prepared by Senate request in Winter, 2002.
12 20 U.S.C. § 1413(a)(2)(C); 34 C.F.R. §300.233 (1999).
13 See Appendix I.
14 Current funding is $8.9 billion. To reach full funding of $22.5 in 6
years, funding needs to be increased by roughly $2.52 billion each year. At
an increase of $2.52 billion a year, an additional $106.2 billion will be
spent on IDEA during the six year period. (See Appendix 1)
Appendix I: IDEA Authorization Estimates
FY Per Pupil Expenditure Special Education Enrollment IDEA
Authorization Actual IDEA Spending Education Community IDEA Full
Funding Recommendations % of Per Pupil Spending Paid by Fed. Gov..
1993 $5,108 4,896,000 $10,003,507,200 $2,050,000,000
1994 $5,206 5,101,000 $10,732,504,000 $2,150,000,000
1995 $5,429 5,467,000 $11,872,137,200 $2,320,000,000
1996 $5,640 5,629,000 $12,699,024,000 $2,320,000,000
1997 $5,796 5,806,000 $13,460,630,400 $3,110,000,000
1998 $6,046 5,978,000 $14,457,195,200 $3,800,000,000
1999 $6,296 6,133,000 $15,445,347,200 $4,310,000,000
2000 $6,631 6,274,000 $16,641,157,600 $4,989,000,000
2001 $7,006 6,381,000 $17,882,114,400 $6,340,000,000
2002 $7,248 6,483,000 $18,795,513,600 $7,528,533,000
2003 $7,402 6,580,000 $19,482,064,000 $8,874,398,000
2004 $7,564 6,672,000 $20,186,803,000
2005 $7,743 6,759,000 $20,933,975,000
2006 $7,930 6,840,000 $21,696,480,000
2007 $8,122 6,915,000 $22,465,452,000
2008 $8,318 6,984,000 $23,237,165,000
2009 $8,518 7,047,000 $24,010,538,000
2010 $8,718 7,103,000 $24,769,581,000
The data displayed in this chart is a product of the most recent data
available from the Department of Education Budget Service. Current as of
IDEA Spending: This Column is all historical data provided by the annual CEF
Education Budget Alerts.
Education Community Proposal: This column illustrates $2.52 billion
increases each year for the next 6 years. This is only a suggested path to
mandatory full funding.
Percentage of Per Pupil Spending: This column is a calculation of the
appropriation level (or proposed appropriation level) divided by the total
authorization level (column 3).
IDEA Funding Coalition Membership
The IDEA Funding Coalition is a working group of nine non-profit education
associations sharing an interest in special education finance. The coalition
is dedicated to creating mandatory resources for the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act. For more information, please contact any of the
American Association of School Administrators - Mary Conk Kusler, (703)
American Federation of Teachers -Jodie Fingland, (202) 393-7487
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association - Neil Snyder, (202) 624-7750
Council for Exceptional Children - Deborah Ziegler, (703) 264-9406
Council of the Great City Schools - Jeff Simering, (202) 393-2427
National Association of Elementary School Principals - Sally McConnell,
National Association of Secondary School Principals - Steve DeWitt, (703)
National Association of State Directors of Special Education - Nancy Reader,
National Education Association -Joel Packer, (202) 822-7329
National PTA - Carolyn Henrich, (202) 289-6790
National School Boards Association - Dan Fuller, (703) 838-6763