I received this email today. I thought I would pass it along.
Please call the members of the committee listed at the bottom of this email TODAY. Urge others in your state to call as well.
I'm writing to ask for your immediate attention to an urgent matter involving the nations six million students with disabilities, almost half of whom have learning disabilities.
Both the House and Senate have passed versions of an economic stimulus bill known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 over the past few days. Both bills recognize the pressing need for increased funding to support education specifically, students with disabilities receiving special education and disadvantaged students served by Title I, which includes many students with disabilities.
While the House and Senate versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provide about the same amounts of new federal funds for education $13 billion for K-12 special education (IDEA, Part B Grants to States) and $13 billion (House) and $12.2 billion (Senate) for programs under Title I of the Elementary Schools Education Act (ESEA) or No Child Left Behind the Senate bill contains a provision that could result in allowing States to shift the use of these new federal funds to other activities
Specifically, the Senate version of the stimulus bill allows governors to ask the U.S. Secretary of Education to waive both the "Supplement not Supplant" and the "Maintenance of Effort" requirements that are built into the federal laws governing use of federal funds for these programs.
These two requirements are important to preserving levels of service for these vulnerable populations:
Supplement not Supplant: Federal funds must be used to supplement or add to non-federal funds expended for the education of students with disabilities (IDEA) and disadvantaged students (Title I of ESEA) in order to increase levels of funding for these specific populations so that results will improve. Furthermore, federal funds must be used only to pay the excess cost of providing special education services to eligible students with disabilities.
Maintenance of Effort: Local school districts must maintain expenditure of local funds for the education of students with disabilities at the same amount that it spent for special education in the preceding year. (Note: Current IDEA provisions allow local school districts to reduce their level of effort by up to 50% of an increase in federal funds received in the previous year, so some flexibility is already provided to local districts.)
However, the Senate version of the stimulus bill allows governors to ask the U.S. Secretary of Education to waive or modify both the Maintenance of Effort and Supplement not Supplant requirements attached to all of the new federal funding in the stimulus bill.
Parents and advocates, along with teachers, administrators, states and local school districts, have been working to achieve additional federal funding for IDEA for decades. With this additional $13 billion for K-12 special education over 2 years, the federal government will raise its special education funding to its highest level ever. However, needed improvements to services for students with disabilities will not be realized if states and local districts are allowed to lower their contributions to special education and Title I by the amount of these new federal funds. These waiver authority in the Senate bill will allow that to happen.
Today and tomorrow representatives from the House and Senate are meeting in conference to work out the differences in order to present a final bill to President Obama within the next week. Members on the Conference Committee must hear from you about this damaging provision in the Senate version.
The states are receiving significant stabilization funding that will allow them enough flexibility to save critical programs and save and create jobs in education. Additional flexibility is not warranted and results in no improvement in services and outcomes for students with disabilities.
In order to stop this harmful provision from ending up in the final Stimulas bill, you must call now.
Tell the Conference Committee:
Students with disabilities need the additional $13 billion for special education in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to be restricted to spending on special education. The public expects these new funds to be used to improve services and outcomes for the nation's 6 million students with disabilities.
States must not be allowed to supplant state or local education funds or waive local maintenance of effort requirements. Allow current federal educational funding requirements to apply to these the use of all new federal funds.
Members of the Conference Committee to Call:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) 202-225-0100
Representative Charlie Rangel (NY) 202-225-4365
Representative David Obey (WI) 202-225-3365
Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) 202-224-3542
Senator Daniel Inouye (HI) 202-224-3934
Senator Max Baucus (MT) 202-224-2651
Please forward to others and ask for their help as well!
Thank you for your immediate attention to this alert.
Public Policy Director
National Center for Learning Disabilities
Review the House and Senate versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for yourself online and then contact the conference committee members today!