Rockville, Md — On July 20, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) reintroduced the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Full Funding Act (S.1403). The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has released a statement that fully supports the act and applauds Harkin for his initiative.

"Our children will benefit the most from the passage of S.1403," ASHA President Paul R. Rao, PhD, CCC-SLP, said in the statement. "The bill will ensure that students with communication disorders and other disabilities receive the highest quality special education and related services."

Over 10 years, S.1403 would gradually increase the federal share of IDEA funding from 16.1% to 40%. It is estimated that a quarter of every dollar spent under IDEA supports speech-language pathologists and audiologists.

S.1403 provisions also would:

  • Provide relief from the financial burden that state and local taxpayers face by supplying schools with the dollars that are necessary to boost the quality and range of services available for students with disabilities;
  • Help raise salaries for teachers and related services personnel, allowing districts to enhance recruitment and retention possibilities;
  • Support school districts by increasing graduation rates and postsecondary enrollment rates of students with disabilities.

The bill has 13 additional co-sponsors: Senators Mark Begich (D-AK); Michael F. Bennet (D-CO); Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Richard Durbin (D-IL); Al Franken (D-MN); Tim Johnson (D-SD); Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ); Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD); Patty Murray (D-WA); Jack Reed (D-RI); Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH); and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

US Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) is expected to introduce a House version of S.1403 soon.

SOURCE: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association