WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Wednesday joined U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in introducing 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.
“Schools serving students from low-income backgrounds and children with disabilities have been short-changed for far too long because Congress has failed to fully fund IDEA and Title I. This legislation would ensure that our most vulnerable students get the support they need by providing the range of services and resources that truly transform students’ lives. I’ll keep pushing until every kid gets a quality education,” said Murphy.
“Fully funding the education of students with disabilities and low-income students should be nonnegotiable. School districts and educators deserve adequate resources to provide all students with a meaningful classroom experience. By bolstering Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, our legislation ensures our students are supported rather than shortchanged,” said Blumenthal.
“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 Van Hollen.
The bill is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), 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.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
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.
“Ensuring schools and communities have equitable access to resources to provide high quality learning, no matter where they are located, is a matter of justice,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “Passage of the Keep Our PACT Act would fully fund Title I and IDEA, two indispensable federal education funding mechanisms, and move us toward this goal.”
“We are proud to once again endorse the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children’s Act which fully funds the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” said Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations, National Education Association (NEA). The Keep Our PACT Act ensures that no matter the zip code, disadvantaged and student with disabilities have equal access to a well-rounded, high-quality public education. We must do right by our children and invest in their education which also strengthens our nation.”
“Passing the Keep Our PACT Act would infuse our schools with funds educators and kids need to thrive,” said NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe. “With increased investment in programs like Title I and IDEA, we can provide our most vulnerable students the boost they need to succeed, breaking down barriers and giving every child the chance to shine. School leaders are ready to work with Congress to get this done.”
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