This morning I was reading an excerpt from a Q & A session with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Regardless of political affiliation, if you have a child with special needs then you will want to follow what Mrs. DeVos is doing with special education laws and funding.
At some point during your tenure, Congress may want to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. What are your priorities there?
I think Congress needs to seriously look at the commitment they made when passing the act to fund it. I think there has to be a review of the act and all of the mandates put on states. It doesn’t match up with the funding. I think that there’s opportunity to support parents whose kids are using an [individualized education program], or have an IEP to allow them more flexibility in making decisions around their child’s education, and I think that certainly is an area that should be reviewed regularly by Congress.
Do you mean the regulation, or the funding levels?
I think both, I think they all need to be reviewed regularly and considered for where they are and what the realities are.
Would you push for full funding of IDEA? That’s 40 percent of the excess cost of educating a child with disabilities.
I think it’s a fair question to ask Congress about what the funding levels should be. Right now it’s about 15 to 18 percent. And yet, the regulations continue to sort of get piled on here and there. They just continue to sort of make it more and more cumbersome and more and more burdensome for states and for local districts. There has to be, I think, a regular review of that and look at the balance of that, and see what’s really right. But most of all what’s really right for the students we’re trying to serve and for the families and what kind of empowerment do they have in that decision-making.
So you want might want to call for slimming down regulation, but also upping the funding for IDEA. Do I have that about right?
I’m not advocating one way or another right now. I’m just saying it’s clear that Congress has not funded it at the level they committed to when the law was passed. And I think that is something that should be reviewed on a regular basis.
You can read the article posted on Education Week’s blog here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2017/09/betsy_devos_transcript_special_education_ESSA_choice.html or http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2017/09/devos_special_education_funding.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news3&M=58201578&U=2141175