Making Equity Accessible through Public Policy

Individuals with learning disabilities deserve access to equity in education. Over the past month, LDA has been taking action to: ensure that legislators understand why support for individuals with learning disabilities should be a priority in the COVID-19 relief packages; ensure funding for research related to best practices and learning disabilities; fight toxic chemicals nationwide; keep watch for what is coming up next in Federal and State policies that will impact individuals with learning disabilities. 

Your Voice In Washington 

Supporting Students with LD Should be a Priority 

The IDEA Full Funding Coalition is focused on ensuring increased and eventually full funding (40%) of IDEA. As part of this coalition, LDA thanks Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) for their leadership in introducing the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act, S. 4100. LDA supports this bill’s provisions such as increasing funding to IDEA Part B by $11 billion, IDEA Part C by $500 million, and IDEA Part D by $300 million. 

Additionally, LDA joined with the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs to issue support for the proposed increase for Assistive Technology Act Programs in S. 4100. LDA supports this provision because increased funding for assistive technology is essential for individuals with learning disabilities. These devices, equipment, and systems can help students and adults reach their goals by utilizing their strengths. 

As a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities’ Education Task Force, LDA partnered to submit an outline of priorities for U.S. Senator leadership to include in a COVID-4 relief package. These priorities include: protecting students’ rights under IDEA and Section 504, increasing IDEA funding; ensuring that federal funds stay in public schools; and, investing in the Teacher Quality Partnership program to address teacher shortages.

Why Did LDA Take Action?
LDA is working to ensure that the voice and priorities of individuals with learning disabilities will be represented in the next COVID-19 relief package. LDA advocates for full funding of IDEA because the majority of students receiving services through IDEA are individuals identified with specific learning disabilities.

Supporting Research and Training

The Research Investment to Secure the Economy (RISE) Act, H.R. 7308 was introduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives and would provide $25 billion in emergency relief for federal science and education agencies such as the Institute for Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation. LDA thanks the sponsors of H.R. 7308 and supports this bill because it will provide continued funding for research and training in evidence-based methods and increase funding for research on learning disabilities. Specifically, LDA supports the RISE Act’s proposed investments of $25 billion in emergency relief for federal science and education agencies, which includes $200 million for the Institute of Education Sciences and $3 billion to the National Science Foundation for research colleges and universities and national laboratories to continue work on federally-funded research. 

LDA is also working with state affiliates to share support for H.R. 7308 nationwide. Several affiliates such as LDA of Texas and LDA of Connecticut have already connected with their Representatives.

Why Did LDA Take Action?
LDA is committed to promoting prevention and fostering research for best practices. 

Opposition to CARES Act’s Equitable Services to Non-Public Schools

Through our work with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities’ Education Task Force, LDA shared input with the U.S. Department of Education on the Department’s Interim Final Rule on CARES Act Programs: Equitable Services to Students and Teachers in Non-Public Schools. LDA opposes this regulation because it would divert federal education funding away from public schools, it does not adhere to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and because diverting funds from public schools would harm students with disabilities from low-income families as well as the public schools that serve them.

Why Did LDA Take Action?
LDA is committed to ensuring that federal education funds stay in public schools and that students with disabilities can be served equitably in America’s public schools.

Civil Rights Data Collection

As part of the Coalition on Teaching Quality, whose mission is to ensure a diverse, talented and sustainable teaching workforce, LDA opposed the proposed changes to the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC).  The U.S. Department of Education has proposed to push back the next data collection by one school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also proposing to eliminate several questions related to teacher quality. LDA and our partners in the Coalition oppose elimination of data collection related to full-time equivalency (FTE) count of teachers in their first year of teaching as well as the FTE count for the second year of teaching.

Why Did LDA Take Action?
LDA is committed to ensuring that all students, particularly students with learning disabilities, have access to profession-ready educators. LDA is committed to making equity accessible for all learners and the questions proposed to be eliminated from the CRDC are essential to understanding the extent of inequities in student access to experienced teachers.

Keeping Watch

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a “minibus” that included seven appropriations bills, including the one that funds the U.S. Department of Education through the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill for Fiscal Year 2021. This bill would provide $73.5 billion in appropriations for the U.S. Department of Education, which is an increase of $716 million above the FY 2020 enacted level. Specifically, this bill would also propose increasing IDEA Part B to $13 billion, which would be an increase of $208 million from the current funding level. Despite the House’s action, the U.S. Senate has not yet begun its FY 2021 appropriations process. It is more than likely that Congress will enact a continuing resolution, which would maintain federal funding for education programs at its current funding level.

Your Voice Nationwide

Toxic Chemical Regulations

In Oregon, LDA’s Healthy Children Project worked with LDA of Oregon to submit testimony to the Oregon Health Authority related to the implementation of the Oregon Toxic-Free Kids Act of 2015. LDA of Oregon’s testimony advocated for very narrow exemptions and waivers for manufacturers and for transparency from companies that received waivers and continue to use chemicals of high concern in children’s products.

Why Did LDA Take Action?
LDA’s Healthy Children Project was established in 2002 to eliminate the preventable causes of neurological disabilities, particularly chemical exposures, and reduce the incidence of neurological disabilities in future generations.