WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) published an op-ed today in The 74 about the importance of including additional funding for schools in the next COVID-19 relief package, including an additional $11 billion in state grants dedicated to support students who experience disabilities.
The senators, who both serve on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, discussed the immense challenges for teachers and students whose traditional learning atmosphere have been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The senators also addressed the unique needs of students who experience disabilities, and the importance of dedicated funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to meet those needs.
“Before COVID-19, these students were already more vulnerable to disruptions in their education, since the additional resources they need are often scarce. Many schools were not able to provide fully adequate services even before this crisis, but for the most part, they provided some necessary supports. Now, as schools have closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many students with disabilities have lost much of the meaningful access to the critical services that make their education possible,” wrote the senators.
The senators continued: “Though the federal government has consistently fallen short in its commitment to special education funding, the legal protections and dedicated funding streams that are in place have resulted in major, life-changing educational progress for millions of students with disabilities. We must build on that progress,”
“Congress’s work to help states deal with the nightmare of COVID-19 is not done,” the senators concluded. “Our nation’s schools need our help. Robust additional funding to support all students is critical, but so is continuing our commitment to students with disabilities, protecting the gains we have made and pushing for even greater progress in the future.”
Previously, Murphy and Hassan called on Senate leadership to give school districts more resources to continue to provide students who experience disabilities with a free and appropriate public education as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Murphy recently questioned education officials on safely reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for more emergency funding for education and supporting students with disabilities.
Click here to read the op-ed in full.