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Washington Update: A Focus on Children with Disabilities

Portrait of cute girl sitting in wheelchair against close up of a bookshelfThis weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.   

While it feels like there has been sand in the gears surrounding movement on FY22 appropriations and the Build Back Better Act- Congress may be on a path to more forward movement in the coming weeks. We expect there could be movement in the House next week to address the Continuing Resolution (CR) which expires on February 18th. Now is the time for advocates to be at the table expressing the critical need for the proposed historic investments in education funding. 

Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act Introduced

This week, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act (H.R. 6532), a bipartisan, bicameral bill to restore full funding for educational and early-intervention services for children with disabilities.

In a press release, the bi-partisan group notes that children and families’ need for early intervention and pre-school special education services has only increased over the past several decades. However, federal investments have not kept pace with the number of students requiring these services. The group highlights that programs funded through Part B, Section 619 and Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act are woefully underfunded, despite high demand for the services these programs provide. The Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act or (H.R. 6532) would assist states in providing this critical support.

“One of the most important things we can do to support children with disabilities and their families is ensure that every child has equal access to high quality early childhood and educational services that will set them on the path for success in education and developmental outcomes,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “I am proud to partner with my colleagues in the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle in introducing the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act to ensure that the programs that promote inclusive, quality education for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities have the resources they need.”

Department of Education Announces Applications for New Awards for FY22 for Personnel Development

On Monday, the Department of Education issued a notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2022 for Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities—Preparation of Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services Leadership Personnel. As stated in the call for applications, the purposes of this program are to (1) help address State-identified needs for personnel preparation in special education, early intervention, related services, and regular education to work with children, including infants and toddlers, with disabilities; and (2) ensure that those personnel have the necessary skills and knowledge, derived from practices that have been determined through scientifically based research and experience, to be successful in serving those children.

The grants will support existing doctoral degree programs that prepare special education, early intervention, and related services personnel who are well-qualified for, and can act effectively in, leadership positions as researchers and special education/early intervention/related services personnel preparers in institutions of higher education (IHEs), or as leaders in State educational agencies (SEAs), lead agencies (LAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), early intervention services programs (EIS programs), or schools. The support will to help address identified needs for personnel with the knowledge and skills to establish and meet high expectations for each child with a disability. Programs must culminate in a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Ed.D.). Applicants must plan to recruit and enroll the proposed number of scholars in the application within the first 12 months of the project period or demonstrate that scholars enrolled after the first 12 months can complete the program by the end of the proposed project period

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) will post pre-recorded informational webinars designed to provide technical assistance to interested applicants. The webinars can be found here.

For additional information contact Celia Rosenquist, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5158, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-5076. Telephone: (202) 245-7373. Email: Celia.Rosenquist@ed.gov.

 

Department of Education Issues 43rd Annual Report to Congress on Implementation of IDEA

Last week, the Department of Education issued the 43rd Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 2021. Section 664(d) of IDEA, requires that the Department of Education report annually on the progress made toward the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities and the provision of early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities.

The Annual Report describes our nation’s progress in:

  • Providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for children with disabilities under IDEA, Part B, and early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families under IDEA, Part C
  • Ensuring that the rights of these children with disabilities and their parents are protected
  • Assisting States and localities in providing IDEA services to all children with disabilities
  • Assessing the effectiveness of efforts to provide IDEA services to children with disabilities

A few key findings from the report include the following:

  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latino infants and toddlers had risk ratios of 1.3 and 1.1, respectively, indicating that infants and toddlers in each of these racial/ethnic groups were more likely than those in all other racial/ethnic groups combined to be served under IDEA, Part C.
  • In 2019, the most prevalent disability category of children ages 3 through 5 served under IDEA, Part B, was developmental delay (specifically, 320,107 of 798,488 children, or 40.1 percent).
  • In 2019, a total of 6,472,061 students ages 6 through 21 were served under IDEA, Part B, in the 49 States for which data were available, the District of Columbia, Bureau of Indian Education schools, Puerto Rico, the four outlying areas, and the three freely associated states. This number represented 9.7 percent of the resident population ages 6 through 21.

Secretary of Education Lays out Vision for Recovery Through the Pandemic and Beyond 

Last week, Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona laid out his vision for continued recovery through the pandemic and his priorities for broader investments in America’s education system. During the address, Secretary Cardona discussed key strategies the Department, schools, and colleges and universities must take to help students, educators, and school communities – from preschool through postsecondary education – continue to recover from the pandemic and address inequities that have long existed in our education system. The Secretary highlighted four key priority areas and actions that will guide the Department’s work in the coming months:

  • Support students through pandemic response and recovery.
  • Boldly address opportunity and achievement gaps.
  • Make higher education more inclusive and affordable.
  • Ensure pathways through higher education lead to successful careers. 

“Many of the students who have been most underserved during the pandemic are the same ones who have had to deal with barriers to a high-quality education since well before COVID-19,” said Dr. Cardona. “We need our states and districts to take a hard look at their own ways of funding schools, and for those leaders to make the difficult decisions to fix broken systems that perpetuate inequities in our schools across the country.” 

Congressional Leadership Requests Briefing on Threats Against HBCUs

On the first day of Black History Month over a dozen historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) received bomb threats -prompting shelter in place orders and cancellation of classes. Some of the institutions have been targeted more than once since the start of the year, with Howard University receiving three threats in less than a month. Congressional leadership including the leaders of the Senate HELP Committee, Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and House Education and Labor Committee leaders Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C), are demanding a Justice Department briefing for congressional offices to discuss ongoing efforts to investigate the threats. 

“Such acts of intimidation, which threaten both the safety and education of students enrolled at HBCUs, are of grave concern and we must work to protect these remarkable institutions and their students,” they wrote.HBCU advocacy groups are urging Congress to support funding to bolster public safety for these institutions.

New Resources for Educators

  • Department of Education issued a brief on addressing the teacher shortage using American Rescue Plan Act funding and other federal resources.
  • Institute of Education Sciences released a report that examines the background and preparation of Black teachers in public and private schools in the US. The report notes that most Black teachers received their preparation by way of alternative routes to certification.
  • The Economic Policy Institute is out with a new report that emphasizes the need to increase pay in public K-12 schools as one lever for addressing staffing shortages.
  • The National Education Association unveiled its most recent survey of members with alarming rates of educators suggesting they are burnt out and planning to leave the profession.

See you on twitter @brennan_kait.

Do you have a question about Washington Update? Want additional information? Email me at kaitlynbrennan88@gmail.com.

 


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