I wanted to write a bit about special education and how it is funded for our schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that all given the same opportunities and benefits, including those with special needs or who require extra assistance. Over the past decade nationally there has been a decrease in the number of students served by IDEA, but that trend has not been mirrored in Minnesota, where we've seen a steady increase over the past several years.
IDEA funding in Minnesota includes both state and federal funds, but is not enough to cover the total cost of educating these students. Recent legislative changes were made to make funding close to the cost of care for each student rather than a one-size-fits-all funding formula that doesn't take into account that it may cost more to educate some students than others. This will hopefully make funding more fair for school districts and allow them to provide a better education for these students.
Republicans put forward legislation this past session that would create education savings accounts for students with disabilities, a bill I co-authored along with several of my colleagues. This bill would provide more flexibility for families of students with special needs, allowing them to spend allocated state funding on expenses like tuition, therapy, tutoring, and transportation. This would allow parents to bring students to schools or programs that fit the needs of their child, empowering them with options to ensure their child is receiving the best care and education possible.
I have previously sponsored legislation that would create a scholarship program with many of the same effects. These students deserve the best education and care possible, and should be able to have the freedom and flexibility to seek out better options if they are available.
I will continue working on legislation to help schools deal with the cost of special education, and enhance freedom and flexibility for the families of these students.
Have a great weekend,