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Transforming Perceptions on The Hill

March 2021

In order to transform perceptions and educate new Members of Congress of the 117th Congress, LDA of America will be personally contacting each of these new members to inform them of LDA’s policy priorities. Our first priority is the passage of the IDEA Full Funding Act, which would serve individuals with learning disabilities, including finally ensuring Congress’ commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 

Our second priority is the passage of the Reading Early and Addressing Dyslexia (READ) Act which would support individuals with learning disabilities with basic deficits in language and reading by replicating Pennsylvania’s Dyslexia Screening and Early Literacy Intervention Program to best support teachers in instructing students on how to read. 

Our third priority is the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act which would amend the Higher Education Opportunity Act to require institutions of higher education to accept an Individualized Education Program or 504 plan under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as evidence of disability when a student is seeking accommodations. 

Additional information on LDA’s policy priorities is available here. LDA is working tirelessly with coalitions, partners, and other national organizations to advance the passage of these priorities.

At the Department of Education

Secretary of Education Nomination Update

In early February, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee advanced the nomination of Miguel Cardona, the Connecticut commissioner of education, President Joe Biden’s pick to be Education secretary, with bipartisan support (17-5). In late February, the full Senate is expected to consider Cardona’s nomination and is widely expected to be confirmed with bipartisan support.

Public Policy Watch 

Annual Assessments

In a widely anticipated decision, the U.S. Department of Education announced that states must administer federally required standardized testing this year, however, schools won’t be held accountable for the results. States will also be permitted to request waivers from certain requirements such as accountability and school identification requirements, as well as permitting assessments to be shorter, remote, or delayed. 

How Does This Impact Individuals with Learning Disabilities?

LDA is unconvinced that high-stakes, statewide assessments as they have been implemented to date have resulted in the improved student outcomes policymakers and reformers promised and does not have an official position on assessments. Even so,  some of our Board Members published an op-ed to highlight LDA’s belief that it is important to assess students to ascertain current achievement levels and to assess the impact of the disruption of traditional schooling. 

COVID Relief Negotiations

Congress is currently considering President Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” as the next round of COVID relief. This bill includes $1.9 trillion in COVID relief, including $169 billion in education emergency relief funds made up of $128 billion for K-12 education and $39 billion for higher education. Similar to previous COVID relief packages, there are no specific funds allocated to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The House is expected to pass this bill in late February, then the U.S. Senate will begin its process to consider this bill.


How Does This Impact Individuals with Learning Disabilities?

This bill does not provide any new allocations for IDEA and LDA is advocating for dedicated IDEA funding in this bill and subsequent COVID relief packages.

Your Voice in Washington and Beyond

IDEA Action Alert

LDA supports dedicated IDEA funding to be included in current and future COVID relief packages. To support this effort, LDA sent out an action alert to our members and supporters to advocate that the next COVID relief package must expressly include specific funding for IDEA. To accomplish this, Congress must fund the IDEA as proposed by Sens. Murphy (D-CT), VanHollen (D-MD), and Hassan (D-NH) and provide $12 billion for the IDEA — $11 billion to Part B (K-12), $500 million to Part C (infant and toddlers), and $400 million to Part B Sec. 619 (preschool).

Investments in Early Intervention

LDA of America partnered with the American Occupational Therapy Association, Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, and the IDEA Infant and Toddler Coordinators Association to request a funding increase for IDEA Part C in the next COVID relief package. 

Why Did LDA Take This Action?
LDA supports the full funding of IDEA, particularly because students with learning disabilities have the highest number of individuals identified as disability category under IDEA.

COVID Relief and IDEA Funding

As a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force, LDA recommended priorities for the next COVID relief packaging to Congress. Priorities included increasing IDEA funding and ensuring that public funds remain in public schools.

Why Did LDA Take This Action?
LDA supports the full funding of IDEA, particularly because students with learning disabilities have the highest number of individuals identified as disability category under IDEA.

Full Funding of IDEA

Along with our partners in the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force and our partners in the IDEA Full Funding Coalition, LDA recommended priorities to President Biden for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget focused on his pledge to put IDEA on a ten-year glide path to full funding. 

Why Did LDA Take This Action?
LDA supports the full funding of IDEA, particularly because students with learning disabilities have the highest number of individuals identified as disability category under IDEA. Additionally, LDA supports the IDEA Full Funding Act which aligns with President Biden’s priority to fully fund IDEA.