One of my great frustrations being a school board member here in Manchester is our financial inability to keep up with the overwhelming needs of our students. Although the local taxpayer has taken on much of the burden in the past few years we receive fewer and fewer dollars from the state and federal government and yet every year have more unfunded mandates handed down.
A lot of people don’t realize this but about one in four Americans in this country are disabled. Most of us have family, friends, or neighbors with disabilities.
What drew me to Andrew Yang wasn’t that he understood the barriers children and people with disabilities face, because he has a son with autism. It was when, on the debate stage in December, he said “We need to stop confusing economic value with human value. We have to be able to say to our kids that you have intrinsic value because you’re an American and you’re a human being.”
The Freedom Dividend will go a long way to helping families of children with disabilities. But Andrew Yang proposes to go further. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires schools to provide students with disabilities the services and support they need. It promises to cover 40% of all costs for children with disabilities in public schools. Yet, to date Congress has covered less than 15% of the funds they promised.
Andrew Yang would not only demand Congress live up to its pledge to provide $20 billion in funds but would expand IDEA funding by $50 billion to meet 100% of funding requirements for children with disabilities in public schools, to promote inclusion and integration. This would free up local tax dollars we currently provide to cover IDEA requirements and would be a game changer for ALL Manchester school children.
If we want to ensure all our children grow up to become adults that are integrated into our communities and workforce, then we need to give them all the tools and support they need early on. There’s no point in beating around the bush. 100% IDEA funding and providing incentives for educators in special education and training for daycares are the solutions needed.
I’m with Andrew Yang it’s time we invest in all of our people, especially our children.