SACRAMENTO – Senate Joint Resolution 8 supporting the IDEA Act has passed unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Education California, Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, announced Thursday.
If passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, SJR 8 would urge the United States Congress to uphold its end of the bargain and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or the Idea Act, a program focusing on disabled students.
“Providing an education to our students is one of the state’s most important services,” said Wilk, who represents California’s 21st Senate District and authored the resolution.
“Yet when it comes to students with disabilities, the federal government has dropped the ball in its partnership with the states by not keeping up its promised funding levels,” he said. “This leaves our school districts in a position of having do more with less to make up for the shortfall which ultimately hurts all of our students – those with and without disabilities.”
In 1975, Congress passed the Education for Handicapped Children Act (now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA) which requires all public schools to provide certain special education services.
Congress had pledged to fund 40% of its mandate but never met that mark – today, it only provides about 15% of the necessary funds for school districts to meet its requirements. This means local governments and states have been strained to fund the mandates.
This year, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) has introduced a bill, S. 866, that will provide greater special education funding for schools, allowing Congress to meet its original 40% mark by the year 2029. SJR 8 strongly encourages Congress to pass S. 866 in the interest of students across California and the nation.
“The IDEA Act is a promise that should be kept,” Wilk said. “I want to thank my committee colleagues for their support on this measure, and I will continue working to ensure the federal government provides the assistance students with disabilities rely on. I hope Congress hears us and passes S. 866 so that all children can have an opportunity to be educated and succeed in this country.”
SJR 8 will now be heard by the full Senate.