Rep. Lee, Sen. Van Hollen Introduce Keep Our PACT Act to Fully Fund Title I, Special Education

February 3, 2021
Press Release

Rep. Lee, Sen. Van Hollen Introduce Keep Our PACT Act to Fully Fund Title I, Special Education

Bill is Supported by More Than 30 Education, Civil Rights, and Disability Rights Organizations

Keep Our PACT Act is First Bill Introduced by Rep. Lee in 117th Congress, as Rep. Lee Continues to Prioritize Public Education 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susie Lee (NV-03) introduced the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers (PACT) Act, which would put Congress on a fiscally responsible path to meet its obligation to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on a mandatory basis over the next 10 years. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced a companion bill in the Senate last week.

Title I, which gives assistance to America’s highest-need schools, is a critical tool to ensure that every child, no matter the zip code, has access to a quality education. However, it has been deeply underfunded, shortchanging our most vulnerable students living in poverty. According to the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, the Title I formula was underfunded by $347 billion from 2005-2017. Nevada alone was shortchanged by $2.2 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. Currently, IDEA state grants are funded at just 14.7 percent. In Nevada, IDEA was underfunded by $1.9 billion between 2005 and 2017.

“Before coming to Congress, I had the privilege of helping our most at-risk students get the support they need to be able to succeed in school and graduate. It is no secret that children living in poverty and those with special needs require additional resources. Fully funding IDEA and Title I will provide Clark County School District with those resources and will ensure a strong public education for all students, regardless of background. This is a critical time to pass this legislation, given the additional stress placed on these students by the pandemic. I applaud Senator Van Hollen for reintroducing this critical legislation in the Senate, and I am proud to reintroduce the Keep Our PACT Act in the House,” said Representative Lee.

In addition to Senator Van Hollen, in the Senate this legislation is supported by Senators  U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, Jack Reed, Ed Markey, Ben Cardin, Tina Smith, Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown, Dick Durbin, Cory Booker, Chris Murphy, Amy Klobuchar, Ben Ray Luján, Jon Tester, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Jacky Rosen, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Tammy Duckworth. 

In addition to Representative Lee, in the House the bill is supported by Representatives Joyce Beatty, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Salud Carbajal, Sean Casten, Angie Craig, Peter DeFazio, Mark DeSaulnier, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva, Alcee Hastings, Jahana Hayes, Jim Himes, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Steven Horsford, Sheila Jackson Lee, Hank Johnson, Derek Kilmer, Barbara Lee, Alan Lowenthal, Stephen Lynch, Gwen Moore, Jerrold Nadler, Grace Napolitano, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone, Jr., Jimmy Panetta, Donald Payne, Jr., Katie Porter, Michael San Nicolas, John Sarbanes, Albio Sires, Adam Smith, Haley Stevens, Marilyn Strickland, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, David Trone, Juan Vargas, and Nydia Velázquez.

“Regardless of their zip code, every child deserves a first-rate education. Congress made a historic commitment when it passed Title I and IDEA, but to hold up our end of the bargain, we must fully fund these critical programs to support students in lower-income neighborhoods and students with disabilities. Now more than ever – as inequities in our education system widen due to the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s time to get this done. I am committed to working alongside the Biden Administration and with the new Democratic majority in Congress to prioritize this issue and to finally fulfill our promise to children, parents, and educators in Maryland and across the country. This is a critical investment in our future, and it cannot wait,” said Senator Van Hollen.

"More than forty years ago, Congress made a commitment to help level the playing field and educate every kid in this country, regardless of their ability, what kind of neighborhood they live in, and the color of their skin. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequities across our school systems, it is even more important for Congress to fix its chronic underfunding IDEA and Title I, the very programs that are geared to strengthening supports for children with disabilities and making opportunities available for all children, especially those who live in struggling communities who need them most. In public schools across America, resources are scarce for special education and disability assistance, guidance counselors, mental health services, school nurses, librarians and teaching assistants. The challenges facing our public schools cost money: the resources to help kids succeed are there, we just have to prioritize them,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

“All students — no matter where they come from or where they live — deserve the opportunity for a great public education that meets their needs and opens doors for them. The ‘Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers Act’ will make students, especially students with disabilities, a funding and investment priority. As the nation continues grappling with a growing teacher shortage, which the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic crisis have exacerbated, this country continues to face mounting wealth and income inequality. Now is the time for Congress to invest responsibly so that the futures of our nation’s public school students are secure. The National Education Association commends Rep. Susie Lee for reintroducing this priority legislation as her first bill in the 117th Congress,” said Becky Pringle, President of the National Education Association.

"Our nation's schools are facing a crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the existing inequities are only worsening, particularly for students with disabilities, students from low-income backgrounds, and students of color. Now is the time for bold action and we are thankful to Congresswoman Lee for her commitment to ensuring schools are equipped to serve every learner. The Keep Our Promise to America's Children and Teachers Act is a necessary first step toward ending the chronic underfunding of IDEA and Title I of ESSA,” said Lindsay Jones, President & CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. 

Endorsing Organizations:

  • National Education Association
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Alliance to Reclaim our Schools
  • Journey for Justice Alliance
  • National School Boards Association
  • National Parent Teacher Association
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)
  • Council for Exceptional Children
  • The Arc
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities
  • National Urban League
  • The School Superintendent Association (AASA)
  • Council of Great City Schools
  • Spina Bifida Association
  • Easterseals
  • National Association of School Psychologists
  • The Brain Injury Association
  • National Disability Rights Network
  • American Physical Therapy Association
  • The American Council of the Blind
  • National Down Syndrome Congress
  • Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE)
  • RespectAbility
  • Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf
  • SPAN Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN)
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
  • School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA)
  • Cure SMA
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • The American Psychological Association