The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides states with funding to educate students with disabilities and mandates that states provide a free and appropriate public education and procedural safeguards for all students with disabilities, regardless of cost. IDEA (Part C) helps states provide intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities.
IDEA is administered by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the U.S. Department of Education and was last reauthorized in 2004.
The governors are committed to improving academic achievement among all students, including students with disabilities. Governors are pleased with many of the provisions in IDEA 2004, particularly those that modify monitoring and enforcement, risk pools, paperwork reduction, maintenance of effort, protection and advocacy centers, and referrals for children under age three. Governors are optimistic that IDEA 2004 will help to reduce costly litigation, ease the adversarial nature of dispute resolutions, provide greater authority to states to oversee the implementation of the law and ultimately improve the services for and academic achievement of students with disabilities.
Despite progress made in IDEA 2004, there are still some remaining issues to be resolved:
- Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers: Governors remain concerned about the shortage of special education teachers across the nation and the new highly qualified special education teacher requirements of IDEA 2004. For this reason, governors believe that states should be granted the maximum flexibility to recruit, reward, retain and certify special education teachers to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to a qualified teacher.
- Other Issues: Governors are also working on IDEA issues related to P-16 alignment, regulations, measuring student performance, monitoring and enforcement, paperwork reduction, assistive technology and equal access to Medicaid funds.
Joint Letter to Congress Regarding IDEA Reauthorization
November 10, 2004 letter (from NGA, the National Association of Counties, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National League of Cities, the United States Conference of Mayors, and the International City/County Management Association) to Chairman Gregg, Senator Kennedy, Chairman Boehner, and Rep. Miller urging them to address shared concerns regarding the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (H.R. 1350 and S.1248).
NGA Letter on IDEA Reauthorization
June 28, 2004 letter (from Governor Kempthorne and Governor Warner) to the House and Senate leadership expressing the Governors' views on reauthorization of IDEA legislation.
NGA Letter Urging Full Funding for IDEA
April 27, 2004 letter (from Governor Kempthorne and Governor Warner) to Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Gregg and Ranking Member Kennedy urging the Senate to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.