Today the Senate and House conferees on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) have another opportunity to fulfill their long-standing promise to children with disabilities.
Twenty-six years ago, Congress made a commitment to America’s children who have special education needs when it promised to provide states with 40 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure to ensure a free, appropriate public education for every disabled child. That promise remains unfulfilled. Today, the Harkin-Hagel amendment provides Congress with the opportunity to make good on its word.
Thirty-six years ago, Congress made a commitment to educationally and economically disadvantaged students when it promised to allocate the same 40 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure for Title I. Even with the substantial increase in the current appropriations bill, Title I funding will fall about $17 billion short of this promise.
In a Washington Post editorial on November 30, one of the arguments made against adoption of the Harkin-Hagel amendment was “why this program above others?” The editorial went on to say that Title I, which is directed toward students in poverty, has never been fully funded either.
If we agree that every child should have the opportunity to meet challenging standards and succeed in school, the choice cannot be which program to fund. Both promises must be kept.
By increasing its investment in Title I in the Labor, House and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill, Congress is beginning to recognize the importance of keeping that promise to our disadvantaged children. Today, Congress has a historic opportunity to fulfill its obligation to our disabled children by adopting the Harkin-Hagel amendment.
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a non-profit organization with the mission to help make it possible for every child in America to receive an excellent education. Our goal is to make an excellent education the right of every child an established national policy, and a reality for all children, within this decade.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life. It is funded by the Leeds Family, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Daniels Fund, and the New York Community Trust, as well as by concerned individuals.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.com.