COVID-19 Legislation – Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, LDA has been closely monitoring developments related to Congress’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act contains an Education Stabilization Fund that will provide $30.75 billion to elementary and secondary schools and higher education institutions. Of that amount $13.5 billion will be go out as formula grants to states, with states then distributing 90 percent of their share to local school districts for response to the coronavirus. These funds may also be used to connect K-12 students to the internet and provide hardware, and an additional $25 million is earmarked specifically for distance learning needs in rural communities.
Another $14.25 billion is designated for emergency relief for higher education institutions. Colleges and universities will use these funds to deal with transitioning to online learning and to provide grants to students for housing, educational materials, technology, and health and child care.
The remaining $3 billion will be distributed under governors’ discretion to school districts most hard hit by the emergency situation. Funds may be used to bolster districts’ capacity to continue educational services and generally continue operating in some fashion. Governors may also allocate some of these dollars to higher education.
IDEA Full Funding -The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.
The IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.
In the 2021 budget, the amount allocated for IDEA would only cover approximately 13% of the costs associated with serving IDEA students, despite the federal government’s original promise to fund the act at 40%. LDA continues to advocate for the full funding of IDEA.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – In 2008 the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) amended the ADA after extensive and careful deliberation by Congress. Implementing regulations were adopted in 2010. The ADAAA and its regulations provide powerful protections to individuals with learning disabilities; LDA opposes any legislation that attempts to amend the ADAAA (including Section 504 of Rehab Act of 1975) to weaken protections for individuals with disabilities.
Educational Technology, Media, and Materials (ETechM2) Program – The ETechM2 program is the primary source of support for accessible technology and media-related activities under IDEA. The purposes of the ETEchM2 are to (1) improve results for students with disabilities by promoting the development, demonstration, and use of technology; (2) support educational activities designed to be of educational value in the classroom for students with disabilities; (3) provide support for captioning and description that is appropriate for use in the classroom; and (4) provide accessible educational materials to students with disabilities in a timely manner. LDA supports increased funding by Congress of the ETechM2 Program.
The READ Act – Representative Chrissy Houlahan introduced the READ Act with Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AK). More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Pennsylvania has been a pioneer in addressing the literacy crisis. In 2014, Pennsylvania launched its Dyslexia Screening and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot Program, which established a three-year early literacy intervention and dyslexia pilot program using evidence-based screening, evidence-based instruction, and intervention for students found to be at risk for early reading deficiencies and dyslexia. The bipartisan READ Act creates a grant program to allow other states to capitalize on what Pennsylvania has learned about how to best support teachers in instructing students on how to read.
The RISE Act –The RISE Act amends the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) to ensure that students with disabilities succeed in college. It requires colleges to accept an IEP or 504 plan as evidence of disability when a student is seeking accommodations in college.
LDA advocates to ensure that each individual with a learning disability is identified, supported and protected. We focus our efforts on policies and practices that will ensure every person will be considered as an individual with a unique set of circumstances and that racial, age, ethnic, language, gender and economic factors do not create barriers to receiving a comprehensive evaluation, timely identification, evidence based services and support, and protections under the law.
LDA advocates for and supports policy at the federal and state levels that promote the following basic tenements:
- Literacy is Human Right.
- Accommodations should be made in schools, in high stakes testing environments, and in the workplace.
- Evidenced-Based Practices for instruction and evaluations.
- Better Identification of learning disabilities and Supports for Adolescents and Adults.
- Accurate Data on Students with Disabilities, fully disaggregated by disability category, race, ethnicity, primary language, gender and socio-economic status.
- Keep federal and state funds for education in public schools.
- The protections guaranteed by IDEA.
- Funding for Research on Learning Disabilities.
- The right of every child to Free, Appropriate Public Education.
- Education of Individuals with a Learning Disability is a Civil Right.