Luján Introduces Legislation to Fully Fund Title I, Special Education
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) joined U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Congresswoman Susie Lee (D-Nev.) to introduce the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers (PACT) Act – legislation to put Congress on a fiscally responsible path to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on a mandatory basis.
“It’s critical that the federal government ensures all public school students have access to a quality education,” said Senator Luján. “That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation that will fully fund Title 1 and IDEA, which help cover the costs of educating students in low-income communities and students with special needs. Nearly every K-12 public student and school in New Mexico benefits from these vital federal funds, and it is important to ensure the federal government provides adequate support so every child can reach their fullest potential.”
“Keeping the American promise of equal opportunity for all means ensuring every child has access to a first-rate education. But too many students have been left behind as a result of the federal government shortchanging Title I and IDEA. The Keep Our PACT Act is about upholding our end of the bargain to make the needed investments in education for underserved communities and students with disabilities,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Education is the key to opportunity, which is why I’ve spent my career working to help Nevada students achieve their highest potential,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Fully funding IDEA and Title I will provide school districts across the country, including Clark County, with the resources they need to strengthen opportunities for all students, regardless of the extra needs they have or what zip code they live in. That’s why I’m joining Senator Van Hollen to introduce this legislation to deliver on Title I’s and IDEA’s promise, fully fund our most vulnerable schools, and refocus the conversation in Washington on how we can help kids and teachers instead of dragging politics into the classroom.”
Title I, which gives assistance to America’s highest-need schools, is a critical tool to ensure that every child, no matter their zip code, has access to a quality education. However, it has been deeply underfunded, disadvantaging the most vulnerable students living in poverty. According to the National Education Association, the Title I funding gap for school year 2020-2021 was $30.6 billion. Similarly, IDEA calls on the federal government to fund 40 percent of the cost of special education, but Congress has never fully funded the law. According to the National Education Association, IDEA state grants are funded at less than 14 percent.
The Keep Our PACT Act would create a 10-year mandatory glide path to fully fund both Title I and IDEA, ensuring that education is a priority in the federal budget. It is supported by education, civil rights, and disability rights organizations nationwide, including the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), National Urban League, Council for Exceptional Children, Council of the Great City Schools, Journey for Justice Alliance, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, UnidosUS, National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and National PTA.
Luján, Van Hollen, and Lee were joined in introducing the legislation by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
Bill text is available here.