Washington and Federal Policy
Support for Federal Investments in Education
As a member of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), LDA of America signed a letter to Congress to urge them to address COVID-related costs by significantly increasing education funding in both an emergency relief bill and in the final fiscal year (FY) 2021 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill.
Through a separate sign-on letter, circulated by the National PTA, LDA of America asked Congress to appropriate $15 million (an increase of $5 million from FY 2020) for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) grant program for the FY 2021 appropriations bill. During this pandemic, parents have faced many challenges with supporting their children with online and hybrid instruction and parent engagement is essential to student success. The SFEC grants are administered through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education for the purpose of creating statewide organizations to support state education agencies and local school districts to develop family engagement strategies. Thirteen states currently have an SFEC and the increased funding would allow additional states to open an SFEC.
In an additional sign-on letter, as a member of the IDEA Full Funding Coalition, LDA of America asked Congress for specific increases in IDEA as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill.
Why Is This Important for LDA?
LDA supports increasing federal investments in education, particularly the full funding of IDEA. More than two million students with specific learning disabilities depend on support through IDEA and specific learning disabilities are the highest proportion category of disabilities under federal law.
GAO Report on Distance Learning and Students with Disabilities
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report to Congress highlighting long-standing concerns about distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report notes the significant challenges school districts faced related to serving students with disabilities as these districts transitioned to a distance learning or a hybrid model of instruction. Challenges including the wide range of needs of students with disabilities served under IDEA; the services specified in these students’ IEPs; and, the capacity of parents to assist teachers in delivering instruction. In this report, the GAO acknowledges that one strategy school districts have implemented is utilizing virtual meetings with parents.
Why Is This Important for LDA?
The findings from the GAO align with some of the recommendations from LDA’s School at Home Parent Survey which focused on the resources needed to support children’s learning at home, regular communication with the child’s special education teacher, and online resources to help address children’s anxiety and fears during this pandemic.
Support for Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA)
Key Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, including Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (VA) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (WA), introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act that would prohibit the use of seclusion and restraint, require parent notification when restraint occurs, (including for special education schools) and prohibit the use of restraint as a planned intervention in an Individualized Education Program, and requires data collection( including for special education schools) not currently part of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). As a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force (CCD), LDA of America submitted a letter of support for KASSA to the bill’s sponsors.
Why is This Important for LDA?
LDA’s policy priorities include a focus on safe and supportive schools and communities which embrace and support all students, including students with learning and other disabilities. LDA recognizes that seclusion, restraint, and exclusionary disciplinary practices cause harm to students and do little to keep schools safe. LDA advocates for expanding the components of the CRDC on students with disabilities to be fully disaggregated by disability category, age when identified, race, ethnicity, languages spoken, gender and socioeconomic status in order to better understand and properly address these disparities.
As part of LDA’s Healthy Children Project (HCP), LDA of America submitted comments through EarthJustice to the Environmental Protection Agency related to the dangers Naled and Dichlorvos Organophosphate (OP) Pesticides pose to farmworkers and the development of children.
Since our last issue of LDA Today, LDA’s HCP, with the support of 21 of LDA’s state affiliates, asked McDonald’s to remove PFAS chemicals from their food packaging and urged Best Buy to phase out their products containing toxic flame retardants such as organohalogen flame retardants, or OFRs.
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. Organophosphate (OP) pesticides have strong links to neurological harm andare on Project TENDR’s list of exemplary chemicals and classes of chemicals that harm brain health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite possible neurological harms for PFAS, which is a forever chemical. Toxic flame retardants such as OFRs have strong links to neurological harm.
Your Voice in Washington and Nationwide and recent actions related to Public Policy which impact individuals with learning disabilities.
Public Policy: LDA in 2020
LDA advocates to ensure that each individual with learning disabilities is identified, supported, and protected. We support policies and practices that ensure every person with a learning disability will have access to an evaluation that considers the individual’s unique set of circumstances, instruction, and intervention. Interventions must be supported by evidence and services, and accommodations that support the highest levels of educational, career, and personal success possible, must be provided. LDA advocates for and supports policies at the federal, state and local levels that promote the following basic tenets:
- Equity in Access
- Safe and Supportive Schools and Communities
Highlights from our work in 2020 include:
- Advocating for the rights of students with learning disabilities as schools had to transition to remote learning
- Advocating for teachers, parents,and students with learning disabilities to the U.S. Department of Education
- Advocating for compliance with IDEA Child Find Mandates
- Advocating for healthier communities through support for other policies and legislative actions
- Working directly with legislators to ensure the rights and needs of individuals with learning disabilities and educators are considered when framing legislation such as the READ Act, the CARES Act, the HEROES Act and the COVID-19 Relief packages.
Visit https://ldaamerica.org/legislation/ for full information about LDA’s public policy work in 2020.