State Sen. Scott Wilk celebrated the unanimous passing of Senate Joint Resolution 8 from the Senate floor Wednesday, as he and his peers urge Congress to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a program focusing on students with special needs.
In 1975, Congress passed the Education for Handicapped Children Act, which is now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, Wilk said in a news release. This requires all public schools to provide certain special education services, and Congress pledged to fund 40 percent of its mandate.
That mark has never been met, and today, Congress provides about 15 percent of the necessary funds for school districts to meet their requirements, which means local governments and states have been strained to fund the mandates, according to Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.
“All California students should be provided a quality education. It is one of the state’s highest priorities, but the federal government has not given us its promised share of the special education funding we badly need,” Wilk said. “This forces our schools to do more with less, which hurts all students, whether or not they have special needs.”
This year, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, introduced S. 866, which seeks to provide greater special education funding for schools, and would allow Congress to meet its original 40% mark by the year 2029.
“SJR 8 strongly encourages Congress to pass S. 866 in the interest of students across California and the nation,” Wilk said in Wednesday’s release, adding, “Until Congress keeps its word and provides full funding for special education, the IDEA act will not be fully realized. We need to keep the pressure on Congress to pass S. 866 so that all children can have the opportunity to be educated and succeed in this country.”
SJR 8 will now go to the Assembly for consideration.