LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Support, fund K-3 special education in Delaware

We are writing today in support of fully funding Rep. Kim Williams and Sen. Nicole Poore’s K-3 special education funding bill, House Substitute 1 for House Bill 12.

Early and adequate intervention both reduces cost and improves outcomes for students with disabilities, but there is an inconsistency in additional funding for all K-3 special education students

Currently, special education services for children in kindergarten through third grade only receive dedicated state funding if students are identified as “intense and complex.” Although, special education students identified as “basic,” but still needing additional assistance, in kindergarten through third grade receive no dedicated state funding.

As a state, Delaware invests millions of dollars in the early childhood education from birth to five years of age. However, once students are in kindergarten there is very little investment where early intervention can be most impactful. Over the last five years, funding for federal children’s programs, specifically under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA, has also seen no significant increase.

Funding for special education and other programs for children should be a top priority of the state government because these programs are investments in the future of our state.

These investments in basic special education for grades kindergarten to third grade would dually benefit general education students. There would be a significant reduction in class sizes, which helps every student learn and grow more efficiently.

Delaware PTA and its constituencies urge the Delaware General Assembly, the Delaware Department of Education and the Governor John Carney to provide dedicated funding for students identified as basic special education in grades kindergarten to third grade.

We understand the balancing act that comes with budgeting for the state of Delaware. However, rather than cutting funding for children’s programs that have already sustained deep cuts, we support eliminating government waste, increasing state revenues and looking at non-child related cost-cutting mechanisms to address the deficit.

Investing in our children is so essential to the current well-being and future prosperity and security of the state of Delaware.

We ask that this bill be funded. We must stop putting the burden of educating basic special education students on the local school districts. We want to see the Delaware Legislature, governor and Joint Finance Committee do the right thing for these students.

Dr. Terri Hodges
Delaware PTA president

Yvonne Johnson
Delaware PTA vice president for advocacy

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