Roberts to co-sponsor measure fully funding IDEA

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is a co-sponsor of a federal bill to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) over 10 years. Bipartisan bills are scheduled to be introduced today in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Roberts, R-Kansas, who announced he will retire from the Senate when his current term ends in 2020, remarked recently that he would like to see IDEA fully funded before he leaves office. 

The IDEA governs special education services nationwide and in Kansas by seeking to ensure that disabled students have the same educational opportunities as their non-disabled peers. The law was enacted in 1975 and Congress pledged to fund 40 percent of the excess cost of disabled students’ education. That goal has never been met. Roberts’ bill, “The IDEA Full Funding Act,” is co-sponsored by Senator Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland and would phase in full IDEA funding over 10 years.  

In January, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced the “It’s Time for a Great IDEA!” Advocacy campaign to fully fund the law. In luncheon remarks to NSBA members, including Kansas school board leaders, Roberts expressed his support for full IDEA funding. He repeated that support in a meeting with the Kansas delegation. 

KASB President C. Patrick Woods, who serves on the Topeka USD 501 Board of Education, said he was delighted to learn of Roberts’ bipartisan initiative. “KASB looks forward to working closely with Senator Roberts to bring this important effort to fruition,” Woods said.

“The National School Boards Association applauds your leadership to champion the federal investment in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),” wrote NSBA Chief Executive Tom Gentzel in a letter to Roberts. “[This] legislation will establish a clear path towards fully achieving the federal share of resources needed to address the unique needs of almost seven million students.” 

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