Money isn’t everything for schools, but it matters. School districts need funds to buy books and computers. It costs money to keep classroom lights on. And teachers need to be paid.
Education funding is especially critical for children with learning and attention issues. These kids may need special services and supports that cost more than general education. When school budgets are cut, kids with learning and attention issues often suffer the most.
“Schools must have the funding they need to deliver a quality education to students with learning and attention issues.”
How Schools Are Funded in the United States
A background on how schools are funded is important to understanding this issue.
In 2014, our country spent around $550 billion on public K-12 schools. States and local governments were the biggest funder. They provided around 88 percent of the funding. Only 12 percent—$79 billion—was provided by the federal government.
The federal government spends its money on specific programs. The two biggest programs are Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- Title I: Low-Income Students ($14.4 billion). Title I is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. Title I money is supposed to be spent to help low-income students. Many of these students have learning and attention issues.
- IDEA: Special Education Students ($11.5 billion). IDEA is the United States’ special education law. IDEA gives rights to children with disabilities. This includes many kids with learning and attention issues. The money in IDEA also helps pay for special education, including services in Individualized Education Programs. When IDEA was first passed, Congress promised to pay for 40 percent of the extra cost of special education. But it never kept that promise. Today, IDEA funds only about 16 percent of special education costs.
NCLD Seeks Full Funding for IDEA and More Federal Investment in Education
We’ve seen large cuts to education over the last few years. In the 2013-14 school year alone, IDEA funding was cut by $579 million. In a recent NCLD survey, nearly 53 percent of parents said they’d seen changes in their schools because of budget cuts. The cuts must stop, and the nation must start investing in education.
We are advocating the following policy changes:
- Full funding of IDEA so that schools can educate our most vulnerable students.
- More federal investment in education for all children with learning and attention issues.