This week the majority on the House Education and Labor Committee introduced The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act (H.R. 2445), a bill to “provide states and local school districts maximum flexibility in how they use federal education dollars” according to the press release.
Ranking member George Miller released a statement asserting that H.R. 2445 “makes dangerous changes in federal education policy at the expense of poor and minority students.”
Among the provisions in H.R. 2445, it “Permits states and school districts to increase funds to support K-12 education programs that meet the needs of their individual classrooms, such as extra reading instruction or additional technology. Schools would also have the option to support early intervening services authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).”
The provision allowing schools to move federal funds from programs authorized under the ESEA to IDEA’s ‘early intervening services” provision is an underhanded attempt to garner support for the bill from those who are concerned about students with disabilities.
In fact, the “early intervening services” provision expressly states that only students who are NOT currently identified as needing special education or related services. The provision was added to the IDEA in 2004 in an effort to reduce inappropriate referrals to special education, particularly among minority students. [More info on EIS is here.]
So, by allowing schools to move ESEA funds to IDEA’s EIS provision, the nation’s 6 million students with disabilities are expressly prohibited from benefiting from those funds. But, by mentioning IDEA among the laundry list of “alternative” programs allowed by the bill, supporters of IDEA funding may well be mislead into thinking this will work to the benefit of students with disabilities.
This type of trickery should put advocates for students with disabilities on full alert! On Wednesday, July 13, the Education and the Workforce Committee will mark up and vote on H.R. 2445.
Join other organizations, such as the Council for Exceptional Children, in expressing opposition to this bill. Send a message to your member of the House of Representatives. Ask that your member encourage House Education and the Workforce Committee members to vote against the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act (H.R. 2445) because it allows the transfer of federal funds out of programs currently used by many of the nation’s students with disabilities (such as Title I services) into a program allowable under IDEA called ‘early intervening services’ that cannot be used to serve students with disabilities!