Serial No. 105-107


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce



















May 13, 1998


House of Representatives

Committee on Education and the Workforce

Washington, DC


The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 10 A.M., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Representative William F. Goodling [Chairman of the Committee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Goodling, Ballenger, Barrett, McKeon, Greenwood, Norwood, Schaffer, Peterson, Deal, Kildee, Martinez, Owens, Payne, Roemer, Scott, Woolsey, Romero-Barcelo, Fattah, Hinojosa, McCarthy, Tierney, Sanchez, and Kucinich.

Also Present: Representative Myrick.

Staff Present: Vic Klatt, Education Policy Coordinator; Sally Lovejoy, Senior Education Policy Advisor; Jeff Andrade, Professional Staff Member; Rich Stombres, Legislative Assistant; Alex Nock, Minority Legislative Associate; June L. Harris, Minority Education Coordinator; and Roxanna Folescu, Minority Staff Assistant.

Chairman Goodling. Good morning. Thank you all for coming. I especially like to welcome our witnesses and thank them for traveling here today and taking the time to share their insights with us.

A year ago the House of Representatives passed the IDEA amendments of 1997 by a vote of 420 to 3. One year ago today the Congress reaffirmed the commitment to providing a free appropriate public education to all children with disability. The culmination of over 2 years of work by this Committee, the amendments placed greater emphasis on improving student performance and ensuring that children with disabilities receive a high-quality education.

A year ago today we pledged to work for children with special needs, not against them. But we see the Clinton budget gives low priority to funding the Federal share of IDEA. We see him cutting the amount of Federal funds that go to each disabled child and composing a special education budget far short of its goals.

Rather than taking the responsibility for what needs to be done and funding what works, the President had instead proposed creating a myriad of new Federal programs with huge levels of new spending that play to all kinds of special interest groups.

Having a strong sense of priorities is important, and that is why I am pleased that Mr. Bass of New Hampshire is with us today. Mr. Bass recently introduced House Resolution 399. The Bass resolution would see to it that our priorities are straight in education. It would see to it that IDEA funding gets the attention that it deserves, and it would urge the President, the Congress to work toward fully funding the grants to States.

I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the gentleman's resolution. I thank him for his strong leadership on the issue. I plan to move the resolution to the floor quickly, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join in this effort. Only through bipartisan cooperation with the Congress and the administration working together can we realize the full potential of the IDEA amendments.

We often hear the phrase, "To those who much is given, much is expected." However, with regard to the Federal Government's commitment to States and local communities under IDEA, it is more like, "To those whom little is given, much is expected." Federal Government has placed a great deal of responsibility on States and local schools to ensure that children with disabilities are properly educated. However, local school districts now spend an average of 20 percent of their budget on special education services, much of it going to cover the unpaid Federal share of the costs.

Educating these children is not a burden. Walk into any school in this country, and you will find dedicated teachers and educators like Dr. Smith, Dr. Van Newkirk, working to enable children with disabilities to reach their fullest potential. You will find loving and caring parents like Mrs. Tomko and Ms. Lee, who are involved in their children's education and working with other parents to ensure that these children receive appropriate services. You will find students like Shaun and Laura who are here with their parents today, who try their hardest every single day. In short, you will find people who care about the education of children with disabilities, and you will find children with disabilities who care about their education.

No, educating these children is no burden, not at all, but requiring the local taxpayers to pay the Federal share for their education is. I have heard the administration and others say that there isn't any Federal commitment to help State and local governments pay for special education costs. That is just a lofty goal. Sometimes they even throw around a few carefully selected quotes from the Congressional Record to add credence to their revisionist view of history, but I was there, and I remember.

We looked extensively at the cost-sharing issue to determine what the appropriate Federal contribution to States and localities should be. We vigorously debated the formula to be used. In the end we agreed on a cost factor of 40 percent of the national average per pupil expenditures, the excess costs as the amount of Federal aid that should be provided to pay for the costs of educating children with disabilities.

For those who argue otherwise, I urge them to go back and read the House Committee reports for themselves, and also tell them to read the discussion on the floor of the Senate. Even with 2 years of unparalleled increases provided by our Congress, we currently provide only about 9 percent of this cost. In many school districts the Federal aid is much less.

Today we will hear firsthand from school administrators and parents so that we can understand what impact Federal IDEA funding has and what happens when it is not there. I believe that if we provide adequate Federal funding for special education, we can ensure that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education, and we can ensure that all children have the best education. We know that local money will be freed up if the Federal Government lives up to its responsibility and pays its fair share for special ed. We know that freeing up money local money will allow local schools to hire and train high-quality teachers, reduce class size, build and renovate classrooms and invest in technology. And last week I was telling Members while we had the debate on the floor all of those things they were debating about, piecemealing, a little penny here and a little penny there to do something to build buildings, to do something to reduce class sizes, that is all nonsense. All they have to do is help us get the 40 percent of excess costs, and those local districts can do anything they want to do.

The Unified School District of Los Angeles, for instance, they would get an extra approximately $60 million a year if we put our money where our mouth was. Can you imagine what they could with an extra 60 million?

You will hear from the city of York, and I think I am correct when I say a small city such as that spends about 6 million on special education. We send them 350,000. If we send them 40 percent of the excess cost, we probably send them another 800,000. They can do all sorts of things in their districts to provide a better education for their students.

So again, Mr. Kildee and I started this campaign a long time ago. We were both on the Budget Committee, and his group had a 2 to 1 majority, and I thought, boy, between the two of us joining together, we really ought to make headway. He and I had 6 frustrating years trying to do very much about it. Last 3 years have gotten better, but we have a long way to go.

And I would turn now to Subcommittee Chairman Mr. Martinez, Ranking Member Mr. Martinez.



Mr. Martinez. Thank you for the elevation and promotion. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I join you in welcoming the witnesses that are going to be here before us today. We all look forward to their testimony on a very important topic.

It struck me that as you were speaking, certain ideas were coming into my head, and I don't think you are alone or have ever been alone in wanting to increase the funding to 40 percent required by Federal law. It seems like we in the Federal Government continually set goals for ourselves that we never meet. IDEA isn't the only program that is lacking the promise of funding. Head Start was promised full funding by both Reagan and President Bush, and subsequently by President Clinton, and we have still yet to see that come to fruition.

I would like to echo, like I say, the Chairman's request for additional funding. I think if there is any idea that he has ever come forward that would have unanimous support from both sides of the aisle, I think this one should be it. His desire to see the Congress provide the 40 percent of excess costs is one which all of us on both sides of the aisle fully support. The historic reasons he gave to you earlier for the reauthorization of IDEA last year that put in place a strong statute which deserves our support for additional funding; however, we still have to convince the appropriators that they should come forward with that 40 percent.

We are an authorizing Committee, and we are sometimes at the whims of the appropriating Committees. I would hope that we would do away with one or the other and have just one Committee that decided the amounts of money that will be spent on each of these programs, and then that would be the final adjunct to the budget, and that would go forward to the President for his signature.

Now, the President is as anyone else, would love to see the 40 percent funding of IDEA. The problem is that in his perspective he has to look at every facet of government and all the priorities that we as Congress have set in his mind as priorities and those that he set for himself as a part of his administration. It is sometimes difficult to balance the budget either way to make monies available; however, I am sure that if a strong message comes forward from the Congress, he will see his way to making sure that it becomes a reality, especially with the support of the community of interest.

Our efforts to provide additional monies for IDEA, however, should not be taken at the expense of other important educational policy initiatives. In our effort to get additional appropriations for IDEA, we should not lose sight of the funding needs of all education programs. Enormous energy and commitment, I know, has been put forward by the Chairman of this Committee in his efforts to gain more funding for IDEA. These efforts should be channeled with those of my old colleagues on our side of the aisle as well as with his who believe that our priorities should be directed towards educational funding. Education, after all, is the most important facet of our life. Without education we will never have the people trained to work the smart bombs that we spend so much money building. I believe that education is our first line of defense.

Early intervention in a child's life are provided by programs such as Even Start, which was the product of our Chairman, Mr. Goodling, and Head Start and others are essential to reducing the number of children identified as having disabilities. In addition, the proposal of the President to reduce class size by hiring 100,000 high-quality, properly trained teachers to provide constructive after-school and summer school options and to support academic reforms and excellence in educational opportunity zones will go a long ways towards providing parents, teachers and schools with the tools to raise the achievement of all students including those shown with disabilities.

I strongly believe that more money for education is a goal that we should all work for and that we all can work for in a bipartisan fashion, and I look forward to working with the Chairman on this particular issue.

Chairman Goodling. I thank the gentleman.



Chairman Goodling. I do want to point out that the only Federal mandate in relationship to curriculum is IDEA. That is the only one. All the others where there may not be full funding are not mandates. This is a mandate.

So I am at this time recognize Congressman Bass for his testimony.



Mr. Bass. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I want to express to you my appreciation for your willingness to hold this hearing this morning.

And I want to thank you, Mr. Martinez, for your opening statement as well, which I think is a is indicates the bipartisanship with which I think this resolution should be addressed.

I would also like at this time to ask that my written statement be made part of the record, and I will speak for a couple minutes extemporaneously, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I am here as a result of 12 or 14 long years of experience in the towns and cities of New Hampshire as a public as an elected representative, and I would just like to begin by relaying to you one very brief story abut a small town in my district by the name of Nelson, New Hampshire. There are about 200 people who live in Nelson. It is part of a larger school district. There are probably less than 25 students total from the town.

In the late 1980s, early 1990s, a family moved into Nelson from a State to the south of New Hampshire and applied for tuition for a disabled student. The long and the short of it is that the town of Nelson ended up devoting over 50 percent of its entire education budget to one student.

That student in Nelson deserves to have an education as much as anybody else in Nelson or any other town in New Hampshire; however, the funding mechanism is so blatantly unfair. That this town should have to come up with what is in effect 92 percent, including the State portion which is very small, of the funding for a single individual not only affects, obviously, the tax base for that particular town, but it creates horrendous community social problems with respect to this particular family and how they are viewed and how they are treated by their neighbors and their friends or new friends in the town. This is not only true of Nelson, but communities all over New Hampshire and all over the United States.

Clearly Mr. Chairman special education is and the Federal Government's failure to live up to its obligation to fund its share of Federal education has to be the mother of all unfunded Federal mandates in this country. And we passed a resolution or a bill 2-1/2 years ago in essence creating points of order for unfunded Federal mandates. It doesn't address the issue of retroactivity, but clearly if we are going to address the issue of meaningful funding for special education, for education in general, in my opinion the place to start is with special education.

Bear in mind that the funding formulas set up today call for 40 percent of the average per pupil cost nationwide. Now, the actual average per pupil cost for special education is double what the normal what the average per pupil cost is for everybody. So when you are talking about a $6,000-per-year average per pupil cost, and special education average per pupil cost is $12,000 a year, and you are only mandated to fund 40 percent or authorized to fund 40 percent of 6,000, the reality is that you are funding basically by authorization 20 percent of the total cost, and then when the Federal Government actually only ends up funding less than 10 percent, 8 percent, that is really only 4 percent.

So what you really have here in real dollars is a Federal Government program that is mandated by the Federal Government and is only funded in real dollars, and real dollars that matter to the people of Nelson or Bedford or other towns in the State of New Hampshire or elsewhere, at about 2 percent. I don't know of any Federal program that is run as unjustly as that.

Now, what my resolution does is call on Congress to make full funding of special education the highest priority for education funding. Not only does this provide make education funding a priority, but it also affects far more than just the educational establishment. Fully funding special education affects teachers, it affects administrators, it affects parents, it affects property taxpayers in the States that have income taxes, income taxpayers, States.

The reality is that we could do nothing better as a Congress if we were to make a significant increased contribution to fully funding the Federal Government's obligation for special education. I would commend you, Mr. Chairman, other members of the Committee, to pass this resolution so that we can send a very clear message not only to the appropriators and the budgeters I am a member of the Budget Committee that this is our highest priority for education.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I will be happy to answer any questions.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you Congressman Bass.




Chairman Goodling. I have told the President several times if he wants to be remembered as the education President, this is the best way to do it. Everybody and their brother back home will remember him as the education President if you get that 40 percent.

And now a very important member of our own Committee will be testifying to her peers, Congresswoman McCarthy from New York.



Mrs. McCarthy. Thank you, Mr. Goodling, and I appreciate you holding this hearing; and, Mr. Martinez, I appreciate working with you. I think we have done some great work in this Committee in the last past year, and I am very proud to be a part of this Committee.

When I first came to Congress last year, I sought and received an assignment on this Committee because education is my number one priority. I believe that every child in this country deserves a chance to get a good education, and that includes children with disabilities.

I was pleased that the very first educational bill our Committee addressed last year was IDEA. For over 20 years IDEA has made a difference in the lives of young people with disabilities, and the bill that our Committee passed and which the President signed into law last June has kept IDEA strong and effective.

I know firsthand the good that IDEA has done. I have learning disabilities. I have dyslexia. But I went to school at a time when children with disabilities was swept under the rug. They were not given the assistance they needed, and many were denied an education altogether. If it weren't for my aunt, who was a school teacher and spent many, many hours with me teaching me how to read, I wouldn't have been able to keep up. I never would have learned how to read, and I never would have been able to fulfill my life's dream of being a nurse.

My son Kevin also has very, very strong learning disabilities, but he came into a time when IDEA was in place, and he did receive support. His teachers knew how to help him catch up. He was not left behind. Without IDEA my son and millions of children with disabilities would have no access to the educational system.

Just an aside note, my son now is taking his master's degree, so he is continuing, and I have to tell you that the college that he has going to is still working with him because he does need a support system. But it hasn't stopped him, and I am very proud of him being able to do that.

Some people have called IDEA an unfunded mandate; however, it was the Supreme Court in two separate decisions that said all children have the right to a free and appropriate public education. In my view, IDEA is not a mandate, but a civil rights measure because it offers opportunity for all children, even those with disabilities. It ensures that no matter what obstacles are in a child's way, that child can still get through the schoolhouse door and receive an education.

I spend every Monday and Friday in the schools on Long Island speaking with teachers, students, administrators, parents about education. They all tell me that they place a high priority on special education. They are not willing to abandon their responsibilities. But they also tell me that it is very expensive to educate children with disabilities, and as we all know, education funding is already scarce. The problem is made worse because while the Federal Government promised to pay 40 percent of the excess cost of educating a child with disabilities, Washington has never come close to providing that. In recently years it has provided less than 10 percent.

According to one of my local superintendents, William Johnson of Rockville Center School District, his schools are working to ensure that children with disabilities graduate with the same diploma and the same skills as their classmates, but these programs are very expensive, and State and Federal money is not adequate. The result is that the local community has to pay more and more. As Superintendent Johnson said this week, and I quote, there is a delicate balance between local, State and Federal funding, and the balancing is shifting to the local community. This is creating an environment in which our very worst nightmare will come true, that the local community will stop paying for special education, end quote. And if the problem is that severe in suburban districts like mine, then we can only imagine how the dire the need is in distressed communities.

What kind of a message do we send to our local schools when we promise funding and don't deliver, and what message do we send to disabled children and their families when we fail to live up to our obligations? That is what it boils down to for me, the children.

It is an expense to educate a child with disability; yes, it is. But is it worth it? Absolutely. The investment we make in giving a child a chance at a good education more than pays for itself. It not only helps someone into the work force to become a taxpayer, but it also lets a disabled child know that they have value and that they have the same opportunities as their classmates. You simply cannot put a price on giving a child a chance to succeed.

We took some important steps in the bill we enacted last year. One provision that I supported will ensure that school districts will be reimbursed by State agencies for the cost of non-educational services. This is a good start to helping school districts, but we must do more at the Federal level. We should help all kids, those with disabilities and those without, receive a good education.

Education funding is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it is a commitment that each of us must make and honor. I hope that this hearing can be the beginning of a discussion in Congress about how we move towards that 40 percent number; however, I do not believe we should do so at the expense of other educational programs. Funding for education should not be an either/or choice. Instead of splitting up the educational pot differently, we should enlarge the pot to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn.

I want to thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member again for giving me this opportunity to testify. I will say that I have worked with many children with disabilities in my community, and when I talk to them, they always tell me or I always ask them, what do you want out of life? And all they ask is for a chance. We owe that to them.

I certainly will be working with you, Mr. Goodling, Mr. Martinez, to try and get the full funding. If we can't get it this year, let's at least make a start so we can get there. And I agree with you, Mr. Goodling, if we have full funding, we wouldn't have to see bonds to certainly work with the infrastructure of our schools because my schools have put off keeping their schools up in repair because we are trying to work with our children. Education should come first. Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. I thank you very much for your testimony.



Chairman Goodling. One question, Mr. Bass. When we passed IDEA the last time, we indicated if we can get to 4.1 billion, which we hope to get to this year, everybody pushing on the appropriators to get there, that we can reduce the local government's share, but we specifically said the State may not reduce their share. Do you know what the local funding share is in your area?

Mr. Bass. Yes Mr. Chairman. The local funding in New Hampshire, which I think is unique in the country because we have no State sales or income tax, no broad-based tax, 98 percent of all education funding in New Hampshire comes from the local property tax. So obviously the percentages are roughly the same for special education.

New Hampshire is a particularly egregious problem on the local level and it is a very contentious local issue, and frankly it shouldn't be, because if the Federal Government fulfilled its obligation to fund special education at the authorized level, not only would the possibility exist for some tax relief for local taxpayers, but alternatively, depending on how the municipalities decided to move, they could more adequately fund some of the other services that are desperately needed in our public school system.

Chairman Goodling. So what is the State funding for special ed in your local school district?

Mr. Bass. Well, let me see here. The local school districts local school districts fund 84.3 percent of special education to State funding, catastrophic and basic is 9.4 percent, and Federal funding is actually 6.3 percent in special education alone. It is a much higher percentage though for overall Federal spending because New Hampshire provides a very low level of general education funding. Most in fact, 100 percent of the funds for education, general education funding in the State level come from the lottery.

Chairman Goodling. And I noticed, Mrs. McCarthy, in your district you would get about an extra $1.2 million if we sent out 40 percent of the excess costs.

Mrs. McCarthy. I will take it.

Chairman Goodling. You will take it. The local funding I see is about 62 percent, and I am talking about one school district, Mineola, in your area.

Mrs. McCarthy. Yes.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Martinez.

Mr. Martinez. Thank you. I don't know that we really need to ask any one of you any questions because it is obvious you are in full support of the proposal. I just wanted to clear up a statement that you made in your statement, Mrs. McCarthy, that even if we concede, and I don't concede, that IDEA is a congressional mandate, it is more of a court mandate. Until the court acted, Congress did not do anything, and the schools didn't educate those disabled children simply because it was so costly. If there is one message that comes through clear from almost every school official that I have ever talked to, and I think any of us have ever talked to, is that it is extremely costly to provide access and all the other measures that you have to take in order to make sure that that child, that disabled child, has a full and meaningful education.

When the court did take that action it only instigated Congress to move where they hadn't moved before, and if we then do call it a mandate because Congress sought to carry out its responsibility that it never had before the court took the action, then so be it. But the fact was that disabled children were not getting a full and meaningful education, and the bid, the law that was put in place, at least insured that parents would have an ability to address their children not getting that education.

The problem occurs because we agreed to we recognized at the time that it was very costly to educate those children, and we agreed to do 40 percent of it. The problem occurs because we never provided that 40 percent, and as a result, there are still some school districts that are blocking educating those children that are disabled and think the good part of the law occurs regardless of our not funding the 40 percent is that the law is in place and does require the school districts to provide that education, and at least provides parents with the ability to go after the school district and make sure they make some accommodation to make sure that their child gets a full and meaningful education. So in that regard I agree that the law is necessary and should be in place.

The part I disagree with the law is that we have never provided that 40 percent funding, and I think that both of you have laid out some excellent testimony as to the fact that we should provide that. The Chairman has made that message loud and clear on the floor. Many of us in the past years have echoed that message to the appropriators. The appropriators also are a little bit guilty here in that they have never heard that message, and the Presidents in the past have never heard that message, because neither one of them of the two that I served under have ever come forward with a strong message: We should provide full funding for education.

I would wish that, like the Chairman has said, put our money where our mouth is, and if we really mean and really understand if we really mean that we should provide that money, and we really understand that it is more costly to educate those children, I think we ought to come forward and do exactly what the Chairman says, put our money where our mouth is and provide that 40 percent.

But I want to thank you both for your excellent testimony.

Mrs. McCarthy. I have to agree with you. I am very lucky that I work with New York University. They have a full program for children with disabilities. They have actually set up a whole village out in Central Islip, and last year I was asked to speak in front of 25 students. No one told me any background on it or anything else, and I walked in, and these were 25 very special young adults, and they are receiving a college education. College education. They have severe learning disabilities. But it will take them a little bit longer, but their whole goal is to get out to work, to eventually have their own apartment. They might need supervision for the rest of their life, but they will work, they will pay taxes.

If there is anything that the Federal Government can do, that is to certainly make sure our children are given all the opportunities to be able to pay taxes, health care insurance, everything, to be just like you and I, and I think that is important. And it makes no difference to me anymore whether the Supreme Court said that every child should be educated. I agree with that, and it doesn't make any difference whether we can disagree here with them. It is a mandate. The bottom line is we have the opportunity now. Forget about the past. Let's go forward to work with all our schools, and that will be the best thing that we can ever do on the Federal level.

Mr. Martinez. I agree with you. More than that, we have a responsibility. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you. I do want to say under in the last 3 years under the leadership of Subcommittee Chairman Mr. Porter, we have been able to get a 64 percent increase, so let's hope Mr. Porter is the Subcommittee Chairman for years to come, and then we'll get the 40 percent. Dr. Norwood.

Mr. Norwood. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for having this hearing, and I thank my colleagues for testifying. I, too, agree with them that this is an extremely important issue for many reasons, but let's do take off the table this is not a hearing about whether we believe our children should be educated, disabled or otherwise. I think we are all in full agreement about that. This hearing really is about why doesn't the Federal Government follow the law?

Mr. Martinez started by saying we set rules for ourselves we never meet. Well, I think that is dead wrong for Congress of the United States and the President to sign legislation that says we will have in this country certain programs, and we will pay for 40 percent of it, yet at the same time, Mr. Chairman, we don't do what we are supposed to do, and the Supreme Court says, but, States and localities, you must follow the law; only Congress is above the law.

Now, that is wrong, and that is what this hearing, in my view, is all about.

Mr. Bass I think adequately pointed out that the Federal Government pays in real dollars, about 2 percent, though we show it as 7, you know. But it is about that, and yet we mandate by law under threat of prison that local governments pay 49 percent and State governments pay 44 percent. Now, something is very wrong with that.

And in addition, I am very frustrated by the fact that we have a President who says, let's let the Federal Government make sure classroom size is smaller. We need another 100,000 teachers. Let's make sure that the Federal Government makes sure that the construction and the deterioration of our schoolhouses is done by the Federal Government.

Now, I do not understand that, because our local and State authorities would have the money to lower classroom size, they would have the money to fix the roofs on the schoolhouse buildings if we would simply follow the law.

In addition, I can't come to this hearing without saying that every weekend I go home, I am always caught up with by a superintendent of schools or a teacher always, always saying about education, we have a serious problem in our school district with discipline. We dealt with that a little teeny bit last Congress. I hope we can do better with that because the discipline problem, the double standard problem, that is occurring is tremendous.

Now to the question, Mrs. McCarthy. You said you thought we should fund 40 percent, just like the law says, at the federal level. You said also that you believed in doing that, we should not take funds away from any other educational endeavor. That leaves for me to think that there are three possibilities of how to get this job done. Number one, we should go into the budget and cut spending other places in order to be able to follow the law and fund the 40 percent, or we can raise taxes and as a Congress have enough guts to stand up and say that this is a good program, it is something we want to do; American people, are you ready to pay more taxes? Those seem to me to be our options.

How would you proceed in order for us to get 40 percent funding? Would you raise taxes? Would you cut spending in other areas so that we can do what the law says? And if so, please help us in terms of where would we reduce spending if that is your option?

Mrs. McCarthy. Well I hate raising taxes, but I think if you really went to the people across this country if there is one thing that I think is coming across loud and clear, education is the most important issue for families across this country. It is the number one issue above everything else. Actually probably it is taxes first then education. So we would have a fine line. But I think if we really I was curious because Mr. Bass said most of his education is through the lottery. Well, New York State, we raise a lot of money through the lottery, and I still like to know where that money goes because someone last week won $17 million. Where

Mr. Norwood. But how would you have the Federal Government follow the law and fund its part?

Mrs. McCarthy. I think if we started looking at an awful lot of programs where there is an awful lot of waste, I really think that we could probably come up with monies. Obviously I care very much about health care. We can't take away from health care anymore. We have done that. But I think across the board we could start looking at things, because I happen to believe that if we educate our children and I am a nurse, you are a doctor I happen to look at the whole picture. If we educate our children the way they should be educated, and those even children with disabilities, then in the bottom line we are going to save money on an awful lot of other services, especially children with disabilities, because we know if we don't work with them, they go on to a path that we particularly don't like. We might see juvenile delinquency. So we might save money on those things, so I have to look at that.

Mr. Norwood. I couldn't agree with you more. We saved so much money over the last 30 years, we only owe $6 trillion. What we have to do is pay for a program we think is necessary, and we need help knowing where to get the money.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Scott.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, about a week or two ago we had a panel of Members, and the gentleman from Pennsylvania Mr. Peterson was' there, and we interrogated them for the better part of 2 hours. So I am going to just make a comment and then yield back my time and hope that some others might get the hint.

Mr. Bass indicated that the one student had cost so much. In our area we have a consortium of several cities and counties, including some small counties, so that the risk of this happening to someone is spread out over a larger area, so when it happens, it is not such a catastrophic situation. And either that or buying insurance or something like that I think would be appropriate to spread that risk, because obviously if localities are putting half their budget in education, and half of that budget went to one student, that is 25 percent of the entire revenue is going to that one student, and that risk really should be better managed. And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Chairman Goodling. Congressman Greenwood.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you Mr. Chairman. I thank you for holding this hearing. I can't think of a more important hearing that we could hold in this Congress than on this subject.

Reason number one for that is I think if you if we look across this entire country for in search of a number one priority for resources, I don't think you could find a priority higher than developmentally- or educationally-challenged children. It is just it is the number one priority for our country.

I am proud to come from the State of Pennsylvania where in 1971 in the case of Pennsylvania Association of Retarded Children v. the State, taken to the Supreme Court, it was established that every child in America, regardless of ability, regardless of disability, was entitled to a first-rate education. It was a milestone, it was an appropriate use of the Federal in 1975, I think it was an appropriate action by the Congress to insist that every State have a methodical system for special education with individual education plans and so forth. But the fact that the Congress has for 23 years promised 40 percent funding of excess costs and only funded 9 to 10 percent is a scandal, and it is one that needs to be made up for in very short order. And when IDEA was first enacted, special education was about 3.5 percent of the average school district's budget, I think, and it is about 19.5 percent now.

And it is appropriate that we call this hearing "First Things First" because we do have to make choices. We cannot go to 40 percent funding and at the same time in this budget atmosphere, in the context of caps and the balanced budget, launch into a whole series of new, brand new Federal educational initiatives. We are going to have to make a choice; which is the first thing and which is the second thing?

That would lead me to my questions. I would like to pose the question to each of you, Mr. Bass and Mrs. McCarthy. Thinking about your school districts in your congressional district, do you think they would rather have the burden of this 40 percent special education funding lifted from them so that then they could choose from the array of options they have, fix roofs on buildings, build new schools, lower taxes, hire more teachers, buy more computers, better textbooks? Would they rather have that, just plug in the Federal money on their special ed budget and let them use what they were using for that purpose for whatever they choose, or do you think they would rather have to apply for grants to the Federal Government for particular one-size-fits-all programmatic funding, like school construction or smaller class sizes, and I think I asked that question in a sufficiently biased manner to get the answer I want?

Mr. Bass. Congressman Greenwood, if I can give you a sufficiently neutral response, I would suggest they probably say they wanted both. But the reality is they won't get both, and in my opinion they would buy a resounding yes, want to have special education fully funded and have the discretion to use those excess resources for other priority programs that may differ from school to school. There may be school buildings in one area that don't need renovation, or there may be smaller classrooms, and there may be other options and other needs in other school districts. And what fully funding special education does, it is not a new program, but it most certainly frees up the school districts and makes it possible for them to assign on their own the priorities that they think need to be addressed in their own areas.

If I can make one other comment, what you really touched on in your question is the fact that there is going to be a debate in 1998 about education funding priorities, and that is one of the primary reasons why I am introducing this resolution, because I want to make sure that Congress is focused on the fact that we have this obligation to fund special education.

Now, Dr. Norwood asked my colleague here about the options that exist. I serve on the Budget Committee, and we have three, if you will, income sources available to us in budget; the surplus, cutting the size of government and raising taxes. It looks as if in this fiscal year there is a possibility that all three will occur.

Mr. Greenwood. Lowering taxes, I presume, is what you mean.

Mr. Bass. Wait a minute, I am talking about sources of income on the, on the uses of income side of the equation we have a whole series of different options. We have been cutting taxes, we have been saving Social Security, paying down the debt and so forth and so on. I would suggest to you that meeting our obligations under an unfunded mandate like special education should be part of that mix, and I have been advocating for that on Budget Committee.

Mrs. McCarthy. I happen to agree with my colleague. You know, in my district it is such a diversified district. I have probably in one part the wealthiest people in this country, and then other parts of my district I have probably extremely high poverty levels. And the diversity between the two and the mix, even when we just got back the State formula on health, certain areas have absolutely no tax base, so those children are actually getting worse service, and those are the children that need the better service, because one school district on Jackson Avenue where I went to in Mineola, we are middle-income families. So you have in my district the wealthiest, the poorest and then us that are average. We have to find a formula, as my colleague has said, that is going to help all the schools.

I can tell you one school in my district that probably doesn't need any money. I went to that particular mayor to talk about schools, talk about community. Mrs. McCarthy, we don't need any of your help for anything. It was wonderful. Have a piece of cake and coffee. But, gosh, when I went in my other parts of my community, they all need help, especially in the schools.

Funding the 40 percent and I am not going to sit here and say I know how to do that, because I don't, but we have to do something because this is something that would help across the country, and that is education, and let's look at it. The amount of money that we, the Federal Government, actually give our schools across the country is not all that much.

Chairman Goodling. L.A. Unified would get 80 million more, I imagine the next gentleman would get at least 20 million more. The gentleman from New York, Mr. Owens, no response. The gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Tierney, no response.

The gentleman from North Carolina?

Mr. Ballenger. If I might, just like to back up Mr. Bass' statement. I am not on the Budget Committee, and somehow I just feel that if the Budget Committee did look at that I realize we all argue about whether the surplus is really surplus or not, but if we are having a good year, it seems to me we ought to be able to put some more money in the pot for this particular

Chairman Goodling. Gentlelady from California?

Ms. Woolsey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't know how many of you saw a recent Sunday television show with our colleague Carolyn McCarthy. Well, I want to tell you that I learned from that that this woman has a can-do attitude, and I think we should all take that attitude, bottle it if we could, because that is the essence of what we need to be doing in working together to increase the amount of funding this Nation invests in our children.

And you said it, Carolyn, that really what we need to be doing is adding to our education budget. It is 2 percent of our Federal budget for crying out loud. Twenty-seven percent of our population are children. One hundred percent of our future are these children. What is the matter with us? We need to be investing in all of our children. Our special education classes will improve with an increased investment across the line.

So I ask you to work with me and give me some of that can do. I think and spread it across this Congress, and I think we can get something accomplished.

My suggestion, then I will let you respond, this the Cold War is over. Why are we still increasing our investment in defense? Our war has to be making our children's education the number one issue in investment in this country. So that is I talked at you. Now I will leave you room to respond.

Mrs. McCarthy. Well, thank you for the compliments. I don't feel that I am a special person. I think there is a lot of "mes" out there that do it every single day. I don't like to be singled out. But as far as education, to me is the number one priority because I see the results with so many of our children, and I kind of look at it I have had the background in nursing and I used to come and look at my patients as saying that I took care of seven to eight patients depending on what floor I was on, which was mostly ICU. Now I have 555,000 patients, and a large percent of them are children, and my job is to make sure that they stay healthy, but get the best education they can because they are our future. And I am going to be a grandmother next several months, and I have to make sure that my grandchild will have the best of opportunities, and I think that is what every parent wants for their child, whether their child has disabilities or not. It is the number one priority of this Nation at this time, and I don't think there is anyone in this country that will disagree with that.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Peterson.

Mr. Peterson. Thank you. I would also like to commend the Chairman for holding this hearing and thank the two Members of Congress for sharing their thoughts with us this morning.

This year the President has proposed a couple new programs which Congressman Greenwood mentioned, school construction and teachers in the classroom. Collectively the funding request comes to about $5 million for 5 years, so it is a billion dollars a year. That is a sizable piece of change for our two new programs.

I guess I would like to ask the two Members their views on whether they would like to see these programs implemented, or whether we would be wise to fund what we have already started; in other words, finish what we have already completed, which we would have no costs, we would have no more dollars staying here in Washington. If we took the billion dollars per year, if we found the offsets for that and found that money available, wouldn't we be wiser to put that into special education where it would go out to every school district in America and free up the funds?

Mr. Bass. The answer is yes.

Mrs. McCarthy. The answer is yes, and the answer is yes. But, you know, we are splitting hairs here. New York State, when the President first came out and said, you know, he had an initiative, $5 billion for school construction for the country and this is the thing that probably boggles my mind the most, that I can even talk about $5 billion this year $5 billion probably still would not cover all the construction costs and everything that we have to do in New York State.

So somehow we have to come to a consensus, and I am not saying we have to go to 40 percent this year, we can slowly work it out, but to take away from those other programs is not going to solve the problem because most of our schools across the country have put off for such a long time. The average school in my district, we did a survey, is over 51 years old. Most of the schools are 70 to 90 years old. So the infrastructure right there is major, major. Our schools don't have our communities don't have the money to even build new schools, so we still need that funding.

We can't start splitting hairs, and I know that is probably not the political thing to do, but it is the people back home that don't understand that. We have budget restraints, and I don't think we have a surplus. I don't believe that we have a surplus, not when we have a debt. In my mind that just doesn't work.

Mr. Peterson. I thank the lady. I guess I just like to say that it seems to me that if we really want to help local educators and, you know, I have schools that need to build, schools that need to fix roofs, I have schools that need to hire teachers. If we funded IDEA and worked towards that 40 percent goal and used whatever resources we could muster for education, I think we are a lot fairer to the American public. We are not building any Federal bureaucracy.

And I am going to tell you, for someone who has worked a lot on transportation issues at the State level, every road we build with Federal highway money costs a whole lot more per mile than a road the State builds with its own resources because of the Federal mandates and all the Federal rules and regulations, and I will never be convinced that we will put money into school construction without increasing the cost of every school that is built with Federal aid money. I will never be convinced of that. So we will raise the cost per square foot to build a school measurably if the Federal Government is part of this dream.

And the other thing, both of these programs are targeted to a very small number of schools in the country, the hundred poorest, and I know in rural America, in my rural district, I would be shocked if a dollar of it got out there just as sharing of the current programs, hundreds of Federal programs we have. I personally we personally interviewed every school superintendent in my district at 35. The average rural school district gets 2 to 2-1/2 percent of their budget from the Federal Government. So the national average is 6.5, so that shows me that because of complexity of Federal rules, the paperwork involved, the bureaucratic maze they have to go through, they choose not to do it or they don't have the people to do it. So here we would be starting two more Federal programs that would not trickle out to America with real dollars like we want them to, but if we put the money in IDEA, and we go to every school district and allow help them train their children with special needs and allow them to use the dollars as they see fit, not allow States to capture it, make sure it comes out of the local school district's share and let the money flow to the districts, to me that would make so much sense.

Chairman Goodling. I want to make sure that the gentlelady understands there is nothing wrong with something that is over 51 years of age.

Mrs. McCarthy. Mr. Goodling, I agree with that wholeheartedly, especially since I am way over 51.

Again, just to go back to the 40 percent, and we all seem to be, you know, stuck on this 40 percent that is going to solve all the problems in our schools on taking care of the children with disabilities. I don't see it that way. We have to come up with the money for disabilities to take for the schools to certainly work with children with IDEA, and we can put that money back into the school systems, and they will have extra money. Will they have all the extra money to hire the teachers, do the reconstruction of the schools? I don't think so.

I think what we have to look at right now and if it happens, that is wonderful. So if we fund up to the 40 percent, make sure that our children are educated with disabilities, then we will see how our schools are doing, and maybe they won't need as much help from the Federal Government for the other projects.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Fattah.

Mr. Fattah. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me join this debate. On the front page of every paper in the country today we have seen now the fifth failure of this missile test by Lockheed Martin in which admittedly they spent close to $4 billion on as it were. I can guarantee you that none of my colleagues are going to be suggesting that we stop investing in this enterprise because for some reason it hasn't worked properly up to now. In fact, there will be those who suggest that we invest more money into this missile defense system even though we have wasted $4 billion on it.

When we get to this question of education, what seems to be being set up here is some kind of false choice between doing what we should do in terms of special ed and responding to the needs of public education in terms of additional teachers and school construction dollars. My colleague from California indicated that we are spending about 2 cents out of every dollar. I know Mr. Bass is, he is on the Budget Committee. Is that an accurate number, 2 pennies out of each dollar?

Mr. Bass. The amount of money that we spend on special education?

Mr. Fattah. No, in terms of education spending in general, the Federal dollar, how many what percent of that is being invested in education?

Mr. Bass. Your question is what percent of total Federal dollars is being spent on education?

Mr. Fattah. Yes.

Mr. Bass. I have no idea.

Mr. Fattah. Well, let me assert that it is 2 pennies out of every dollar that my colleague from California mentioned, and that what we fail to do by trying to create this competition between President Clinton's program and the sincere desire, I know, of the Republican Chairman of this Committee, because we have been talking about this for years, is and is actually seeing to it that we have had some increases in special ed funding over the last 3 years, is we really shouldn't be debating that. I mean, it should be enough sense among our colleagues that we should put education into the development of smart children at least on the same level as development of smart bombs. And in this Congress we are going to appropriate hundreds of billions of dollars in defense of our economic competitors in Europe and Japan, and we are saying we can't find what is in the Federal budget a fairly paltry sum to respond to the needs of special ed.

Let me say a couple of things. One is that when we deal with special ed, we need to look at some of the real facts, however. One is that people who are involved in education reform know that special ed in and of itself has got its own set of problems in which school districts have for financial purposes been tracking kids into special ed that ought not be tracked into special ed programs because of some of the financial rewards that have been set up in the State financial ratios. We had a whole host of problems that we talk about financing this on an equal basis, because if you have the richest school districts in the State and the poorest school districts in the State, and you pump Federal dollars in equally across the board, you are just continuing to build on the disparities that are subject to some 29 lawsuits all around this country in which the poor school districts are arguing that they need to be brought up to par with some of the wealthiest school districts.

And the other thing I would say is that it is somewhat shortsighted to talk about funding special ed and backing away from school construction. Special ed students have to go to school in these school buildings, and they also have they have to have teachers, and much of what has been suggested over the last decade is that we need to be mainstreaming special ed students, and to the degree that they are not going to go to public schools buildings, they are going to go to approved private schools, it gets into some of the issues that the Committee dealt with recently about the high costs of some of the approved private schools and that burden on local school districts. Even if we pick up 40 percent or 30 percent or 20 percent, you continue to have that kind of problem.

So I think that as we rush forward into this special ed issue, we should look at many of these concerns. We should also as an education Committee, this is the one place in this Congress where we should be standing up saying that all of these children, special ed or not, deserve a fair chance, and that this Federal Government should be doing more, not less. We shouldn't be choosing between fixing leaking roofs and special ed funding. We should be doing both. We should at least be arguing for that as the Education Committee, and if the rest of the Members of the Congress can't see the wisdom in that, then that is another matter. But this Committee should not be making these false choices that don't lead to a very promising future for our country. Thank you very much.

Mr. Bass. To answer your question, I did a little math while you were talking. If we have about $13 billion in elementary and secondary education funding at a $1.7 trillion budget, it is about 8.5 percent.

Mr. Fattah. I will give you a generous 2 cents out of every dollar, and our kids deserve more than 2 cents out of every dollar.

Chairman Goodling. And obviously if we send the 40 percent of excess costs back, we can do all those kind of things on the local

Mr. Fattah. Correct, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Goodling. I do want to point out, however, unless you straighten out the misguided foreign policy of the Commander in Chief who would say to India, you can't test, and to China, we will send you some new technology and higher technology that we may have to spend all of our money just trying to defend this country, which I hope all of you can straighten out on that issue

Mr. Fattah. We are going to need to educate some children if we want to have a good defense.

Chairman Goodling. We have to first of all educate the Commander in Chief. Those of you who waited to come until we were ready for the second panel, who had a lot more important things to say than we have to say, I would hope that you would be brief than those who went and left. Mr. Roemer.

Mr. Roemer. Thank you Mr. Chairman. I went and left because I have I came and left because I have a Science Committee hearing going on at the same time where we are having votes. That is very important for me and my constituents to get over there and participate in that debate as well, too.

This debate is maybe the most important debate that we have in this country right now, and I will try to be brief, but we have seen how Members on both the Republican and the Democratic side feel very strongly about this issue, the issue of fair and equal funding for our students through the IDEA program, and our concern for educating our children throughout this country. I would hope that the grandiloquent and articulate statements from both Members on both sides of this Committee would translate to floor votes as well, too.

We have a balanced budget. That certainly does not exempt us from casting some tough votes on the House floor to decide on whether or not we are going to live up to the obligations of the 40 percent funding under this act and the IDEA Act, or whether we just continue to go to the floor and never vote for cuts in any program, never exercise tough and difficult choices, and never take the necessary steps to try to move money from one program that is not working, that is overbudgeted, that is inefficient, toward a program where I see some of our Nation's children in this room that want to learn, that can learn, and that are being deprived of the commitment that the United States Government made to them to get them the adequate resources to learn.

Let me just cite, as my friend from Pennsylvania did, he cited a missile system that is not working. Front page of the New York Times today cites U.S. blundered on intelligence, intelligence gathering, on the India detonation of nuclear missiles underground, explosions under ground. We had a vote just last week to cut a measly 3 percent from the Central Intelligence Agency's $28 billion annual budget; $28 billion is what the CIA gets. The New York Times has published that figure. That is a public figure. But this body overwhelmingly voted to continue not to cut a single cent from that program.

Now, I think that these hearings are great. You know they are great for us to vent our frustrations and to talk about what we commit our time and resources to. But until we then take our votes down on the House floor and start to vote, while we talk in Committees and cancel a space station that is $7 billion over budget just in the last couple years, a CIA that can't do its job on intelligence gathering and just wants amendments offered for a 3 percent cut, to educate the children in this country, to put the resources in the most important place we can put it, I think that we are fooling ourselves in this Committee. We are making great speeches, and we are not casting the tough votes. We don't even have a budget resolution in this Congress at this point.

So I would hope that we would translate some of these, I think, genuine feelings on the part of Democrats and Republicans today into some genuine votes on the House floor to reorient the resources to our Nation's children.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Kucinich.

Mr. Kucinich. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I would like to associate myself with the remarks by Mrs. McCarthy about increasing the size of the pot for the funding. And also, you know, I would also like to refer to the testimony submitted by Stephanie Smith Lee on behalf of the National Downs Syndrome Society. I agree that IDEA is a civil rights law, not an unfunded mandate, and if we start from that premise, that IDEA is a civil rights law, and that we recognize that those who are differently abled have rights, have a right to an education, and that right to an education needs to be facilitated for some of our brothers and sisters attending public school. It is facilitated with making sure that the services are there, the resources are there, the teachers are there, the classrooms are there, the facilities are there so that people can learn so they can participate in the mainstream of society.

So I appreciate both witnesses because this is an important debate. It is important that this issue is discussed because it leads us to come to conclusions about what our priorities are in this Nation, and if a Nation cannot put a priority on its children, it is a Nation that is in trouble; and if a Nation cannot put a priority on children who are differently abled, it doesn't speak well of the moral commitments of the Nation.

So I am aware as a member of this Committee to speak out in support of IDEA, of the principles from which IDEA sprang, and of a process which needs to keep emphasizing the priority of education, to have educational opportunities for all regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, disabilities or anything for all Americans. We all ought to make education and those who are differently abled our priority, because they are us. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Hinojosa.

Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for being late for this hearing because I had another one at another Committee that I serve, but I would like to expresses my support for IDEA. The area that I represent is an area in south Texas that is in great need for the kind of support that you are asking us, and I want to work closely with our Committee to make it happen, to increase the funding, and that hopefully we are going to give more children an opportunity to have access to education.

The Chairman has asked us to be brief, and I will stay for the next panel, and hopefully at that time I can take more time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Payne.

Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. I, too, will be brief and then leave again and come back though. So I am letting you know now it is not because of disinterest. I think that all of us are interested. That is why I think all of us are popping in and out, because we think education is the number one issue in this country, and yes, we all want to say a short word because of our interest.

I would just like to associate myself with many of the remarks of my colleagues. I do think we are misguided in this country with the missile system, which is misguided because it is not working. The defense system is nothing is bad as a misguided missile, but that is what we have. But you will continue to fund it, 4 billion, 8 billion; whatever it costs, it will be done.

Several years ago we had a defense budget of about $325 billion, went up to about 340 billion. The Cold War was ended, and we said we going to have a peace dividend, so we could probably do with a defense system of 150 billion. They are increasing the defense budget again from 250, 240 up to 260 and 270 billion, and I guess it will get back up to $300 billion again, although we have no real number one enemy in the world. But we are still pumping the money into new systems, new planes, the F-22. Now we got a new series coming up because F-16 and F-18 are not adequate anymore, and about $30 billion will be spent for a new fighter plane.

And yet and still we have schools crumbling down. In my city of Newark, half the schools were built before the change of the century. We have my grandson goes to schools 150 years old. It is unbelievable, a public school. And so we have seen opposition to 100,000 new teachers to keep class sizes down to 18 from grades 1 to 3 by the new Majority, and we see opposition to school construction to assist old crumbling schools by the new Majority, but on the other hand, when we had 100,000 policemen to be put on the streets, and that was fine, we got tremendous support for that, and when we had a tremendous amount of money that will be put in for police equipment, there was overwhelming support. So I support 100,000 new policemen in the country, but I also support 100,000 new teachers.

I can't understand how a person could say, we support Federal support for 100,000 new policemen and equipment for police departments, but we oppose 100,000 new teachers and school construction. We are misguided like those missiles, and I just hope that at some point we can have a correction so that the misguided folks as a matter of fact, I see the Senator from South Carolina has put in eliminating Goals 2000, the Eisenhower programs, to take money from that to put an end to IDEA, because he said, I support this, but let me take it away from some other good programs. So it is robbing Peter to pay Paul. I yield back the balance of my time for brevity.

Chairman Goodling. Are we ready for panel two? I want to thank our colleagues for coming and listening to us and would ask the second panel to please come to the table. Mrs. Myrick.

Mrs. Myrick. Chairman Goodling, I appreciate the opportunity to introduce Dr. Eric Smith. He is the superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, and it is always encouraging to know that the voice of local school officials is being heard here in Washington. I know he represents them, as well as other panelists who are going to be before you this morning, but they are the ones that actually have to implement what we do and what Congress says here in Congress, and so I applaud the efforts of this Committee to continue to return that decision-making back to them.

Dr. Smith has been a superintendent for 8 years in 3 different school districts. He became superintendent in Charlotte-Mecklenburg in 1996, and he has been working diligently to improve our education system. Representative Souder and McIntosh, who serve on this Committee, are very well acquainted with Dr. Smith because I had an education summit back in March, and he was a panelist then, and we had a very good time in talking about all the considerations we have in Charlotte and the things that we need to do there.

This is just an aside to today's hearing, but I do want to just applaud Dr. Smith because he has instituted in our area an absolutely excellent successful 4-year-old kindergarten program using Title VI funds that is phenomenal, and I hope at some future point you will have him back to talk about that. Welcome, Dr. Smith, and we look forward to your comments.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Greenwood.

Mr. Greenwood. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a great pleasure for me to introduce to our Committee Mrs. Tomko and her son Shaun Tomko; and Mr. Tomko is in the audience as well. Mrs. Tomko and Shaun are regular visitors to my office, my district office in Bucks County, where Shaun likes to come up and play with my chess set while his mom and I talk about special education. Shaun goes to attends the same school district that my children do, and is he second or third grade? Second grader at the Springfield Elementary School, and Mrs. Tomko may not look like it, but she is sort of a lioness when it comes to getting what her son needs for his particular needs. And I am she has been a great adviser to me and a great support to these efforts, and I welcome her here to the Education Committee. Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. I introduced Dr. Van Newkirk on a television program the other evening. I was asked what I am doing to try to bring better relationships within the community, how we are bringing how I am helping to bring people together. And my two opponents waxed eloquently in all the things they were going to do, and I just said I would suggest you ask Bobby Simpson at Crispus Attucks and ask Dr. Harris at York City Schools, and I would ask Dr. Van Newkirk. Dr. Van Newkirk, is the superintendent of schools where I graduated with honors what was I, valedictorian or salutatorian? I forget which it was.

Mr. Van Newkirk. I don't think I will go there.

Chairman Goodling. You don't have that information. You are not allowed to give it out either. But it is a great school system. York City is about 49,000, I believe, in size, and they provide a wonderful education for all students. So I am very happy to introduce Dr. Van Newkirk.

And I will introduce Ms. Lee also, since I don't see anyone on my list to introduce Miss Lee, and she doesn't need any introduction because all of you see her here as much as you are here. She is a high-powered advocate, I guess we would say, and does an outstanding job of bringing to us issues that need to come before the Congress in relationship to special needs children.

And so with that we will start with Dr. Smith, and all of you can summarize if you want. Your entire record your entire statement will be in the record, and then we will get to the question period.



Mr. Smith. Thank you very much. Representative Myrick, thank you for the kind introduction. I would like to introduce to the Committee Jane Ryan, who is behind me. She is in charge of the exceptional program in Mecklenburg County.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for providing me an opportunity to appear before you today to demonstrate the effects on just one district in response to the 1997 reauthorization of the IDEA legislation. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is the 25th largest school district in the United States, with a school-aged population of approximately 96,000 children. Children with disabilities currently number nearly 11,000, which represents more than 11 percent of the total school population. It should be noted that our special education population is currently growing at a nearly three at nearly three times the rate of the regular education program in our district.

It is the expectation of our community that we provide a high-quality education to all students. As you know, the funding for special education programs is shared a shared responsibility of Federal, State and local school districts. Our special education budget is $39.7 million. Funding sources for this budget, in rank order, are comprised of 62 percent State funding, 19 percent local funding, and 14 percent Federal funding. Congress passed Public Law 94-142 in 1975 with the intent of paying 40 percent of the national average excess cost of special education by 1981. This goal has never been realized.

Federal law defines disabilities that qualify a child for special education and mandates school responsibilities and parental rights. Federal law sets out three basic principles that apply to children with disabilities: One, all children with disabilities must be provided a free appropriate public education; two, each child's education must be determined on an individualized basis and designed to meet his or her unique needs in the least restrictive environment; and three, the rights of children and their families must be insured and protected through procedural safeguards. Given our current funding level we struggle to meet these legislative mandates.

Let me illustrate one such struggle. Kevin was a typical 3-year-old child until he was involved in a tragic auto accident. The accident did not affect his intellectual functioning; however, the accident left Kevin paralyzed the from the neck down, totally dependent on life-support systems and an electric wheelchair.

Federal law requires that children with disabilities be served by the school system upon reaching age 3. Kevin was provided services by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' preschool program for students with disabilities until he was eligible for kindergarten. This year Kevin entered kindergarten. His individualized educational plan team determined that the way to comply with the Federal mandate placement in the least restrictive environment was to enroll him in a regular kindergarten program with necessary support and services. In order to accommodate his needs in a kindergarten class, we provided Kevin with a one-to-one personal assistant, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language therapy, augmentative communicative devices and services, assistive technology, special education instructions, special transportation and special evaluations. The cost of these supports and services to maintain Kevin in regular education exceeded $40,000 per school year. This year we received $539 in Federal funds for Kevin.

Kevin represents just 1 of the 11,000 students with disabilities in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. While this may seem like an extreme example of the disabled students we serve, even children with mild disabilities cost more than the Federal dollars our district receives for them. For example, it costs $1,024 per year to provide one student with 1 hour per week of speech and language therapy. Again, we receive only $539 of Federal funding for services to these students. When specialized education is not fully funded, it affects not only students with disabilities, but all other students in the district as well. Funds initially identified to support the costs of regular education programs must be shifted to cover special education costs. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, this funding shift negatively impacts on the programs and services for the 85,000 regular education students in our district.

Based on lack of funding there are systemwide struggles, which directly affect the quality of services we can provide to our students. Daily we face the challenges of recruiting and retaining special education personnel. Just recently I received a resignation letter from a veteran special education teacher. Let me share an excerpt from her letter:

"I have been a teacher of exceptional children for over 23 years in Michigan and Charlotte, North Carolina, and will always have fond memories of the experience and a tender spot in my heart for the children with special needs. However, the job has become increasingly demanding in the past few years due to governmental regulations and requirements, and I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time on paperwork, meetings and testing."

This is one example of the frustration our teachers face each day. It is heartbreaking to me that we cannot retain quality teachers due to the increased responsibility imposed and lack of funding available.

Let there be no doubt, we will meet the mandates of the law; however, the lack of funding makes it difficult to enhance the quality of services for children. While we are well aware that the effectiveness of services can improve by reducing caseloads, current funding levels prohibit us from doing so. Eighty-nine percent of our special education budget pays for personnel costs. This leaves very little for the purchase of equipment, materials, technology. Here are two examples: 28 percent of the amplification devices used in the district for our hearing-impaired students are beyond their useful life. Many of our special education classes have outdated computers or no computers at all, or have limited or no software available to support appropriate instruction.

I support the intent of Congress with the reauthorization of IDEA to improve services to students with disabilities and their families. However, the increased mandates are not supported with commensurate levels of Federal funding. For example, IDEA now requires that at least one regular education teacher participate in each IEP meeting. In our district the average IEP meeting lasts approximately 1 hour. This would equate to 11,000 hours of regular education teacher time on an annual basis to meet the mandate. In addition, not only are we impacting regular education teachers, we also are impacting 11,000 hours of administrative time and special education teachers' time, a total of 33,000 hours per week per year.

Another area of concern for me is the inconsistency in student discipline caused by the mandates in the reauthorization and Safe School initiatives. Let me give you a hypothetical situation that demonstrates the effects of these regulations. Johnny is a student in regular education class receiving speech therapy services under IDEA. Sam was Johnny's twin non-disabled brother. Both attend the same middle school. Johnny and Sam each are found with a loaded gun. Now let me tell you what happened to both.

As you know, we had a zero tolerance policy regarding the possession of weapons on school grounds pursuant to Federal guidelines, which I support enthusiastically. Under the reauthorization provision Johnny would be entitled to procedural safeguards as a result of a special education status. Johnny could be placed in an alternative education placement for a maximum of 45 days while he would continue to receive access to the general curriculum, continuation of his special education instruction, and a behavior intervention plan aimed to reduce his problematic behavior.

In startling contrast, his twin brother Sam would be expelled for 1 year with no mandate or instruction, as mandated by the Gun-Free School Act. This leaves school systems faced with the dilemma of explaining how such disparity disparate treatment for identical behavior is both equitable and justifiable. At the same time, Johnny would soon learn that the same disciplinary rules that apply for his non-disabled peer does not apply because of his special education status.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has been proactive in implementing not only the letter of the law, but also its spirit as well. In our proposed 1998-99 local budget, we have included an additional $1 million to meet the needs of disabled students. This money is intended to cover the costs of related service personnel and services to preschool students, additional staff at the high school level to promote our local goal of increasing the graduation rate of special education students by 10 percent.

Some have argued that education is not an issue to be addressed by the Federal level. I disagree. Education is as much a Federal issue as health, defense, transportation or labor. Funding which supports the needs of all children is vital. I applaud Congress for examining the funding needs of students with disabilities; however, Federal funding for disabled students alone will not be sufficient. It is imperative that we continue Federal funding for other programs such as Title I and Limited English Proficient Services are two examples. For instance, in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools we use the majority of our Title I money to fund our literacy-based pre-kindergarten program for 1,800 children this year. By providing this early intervention of instruction and support, this program will have a direct impact on our special education program by reducing the number of children who will need special education services later.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is committed to providing a quality education which will ensure that all students will have the opportunity to build and then realize dreams for the future. I realize Congress is headed in the right direction by increasing Federal funding for students with disabilities. The education of American youth is of compelling national interest, and I fully support the provision of Federal funding for all educational initiatives. Thank you.


Chairman Goodling. Doctor Van Newkirk.



Mr. Van Newkirk. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate the opportunity to be here. My testimony is rather complete. I will let you read it at your leisure, and there is a summary on the back.

I think I would like to share with you that we represent a school district of 7,600 students, 5.2 square miles, where 81 percent of our elementary children qualify for National Free and Reduced Lunch. District-wise that figure is 73 percent. Seventeen years ago when I came to the district, that figure was 41 percent.

The increase of poverty in the community is having a significant impact in terms of the services that we need to provide to children. Associated with that is the demand made via the mandates for special education. The school district for the city of York budgeted $7.1 million in 1997-98, 13 percent of our budget. We received 561,000 from IDEA. That, however, was an increase of 108,000, and we are appreciative of that. This is only 7.8 percent of the District's special educational costs. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided 3.2 million, and we have a shortfall of 3.3 million. And the point I want to make is that the shortfall must be made up by the poorest people in York County, Pennsylvania, whose children frequently have the greatest need.

We have the highest tax rate in the county and have had for many, many years. There are only 29 school districts out of 501 in Pennsylvania who have a higher tax rate in terms of equalized mills than we do. Therefore the citizens recognize the need and are willing to help foot the bill, but let me tell you what is happening as they do that.

To fund the shortfall, we take away from the education of regular children. I am not so sure I really like the definition "regular" and "special ed" because all children have value, and all children have importance. We increase class size. We have absolutely no curriculum coordination in the district because all curriculum specialists have been let go. We have art education in our school district once every 12 days for an elementary student for 37 minutes, and we have no physical education, no elementary counselors, and we have music once every 6 days for 35 minutes.

When you recognize the increase in poverty, you will see that we are dealing with issues in terms of drug abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, not ready to learn when they come to school, so that the need for increased psychological counseling is ever present and constantly being pushed to the back burner.

I do not believe that it is appropriate for the Federal Government to make a requirement for a specific level of educational attainment and not provide the resources to help achieve that.

In summary, I would share with you that the 4 million 6 for low incidence cost for special education is a critical factor in our budget. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania funds us at 1 percent of our student population for low incidence, severe needs, and that would be 76 students. We have 234. The educational placement of students in residential placements is 1.2 million. Those issues cause the local taxpayer, the local citizen, to relinquish needs for regular ed students to accommodate the mandated special education plan.

We are concerned also about a couple other things. The new regulation is going to require that there be protection for children not yet eligible for special ed so that individuals on staff are able to identify via a violation of a discipline code or a violation of a behavior regulation that perhaps this student needs to be evaluated for special education. That is going to take a significant number of hours, people and resources.

And do not forget the requirement of regular education, because of the increase in inclusion, which I support, is going to provide us with the daunting task of scheduling teachers, regular and special ed, with other members of the IEP team to determine what is the best educational plan. It is not that we do not want to do it, but contemplate, if you would, a chemistry teacher who teaches seven periods, has many special need students in terms of inclusion, and has to meet each of those IEP planning sessions as a member of the inclusion team.

I make three recommendations to you the red light came on, Mr. Chairman. I recommend that legislation should enable

I recommend that legislation should enable school districts to require appropriate parental involvement in the development of the IEP. We currently have no legal requirement to demand their participation, and yet their participation is a requirement.

Number two, in conjunction with Federal regulations I believe that parents who receive Social Security Income benefits known as SSI might be required to meet the IEP needs of their child with SSI dollars. That could well be another $3.6 million for special ed service available to help develop or enhance or improve the disability. And third recommendation, full funding for all mandates in the Federal level would allow every citizen to share in the care of the Nation's special education students and not place the majority of the financial burden on poor school districts. Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you.




Chairman Goodling. Mrs. Tomko and Shaun.



Mrs. Tomko. Thank you, Chairman and members of the Committee, for giving us this opportunity to tell about our little perspective of the world.

When Shaun was born, we were first told that he probably would not live. As he grew and we went to the various professions and systems, we were told everything that he couldn't and wouldn't do. Services were not handed to Shaun or our family even though we actively sought them out.

When he was about 2-1/2 years old, we found out about Early Intervention Services. We had to take him to those services because they didn't come to him. He attended a segregated early intervention center, and we felt that it had wonderful services, but going to this center eventually led to his learning really inappropriate behaviors and to crying 90 percent of the time because he ended up being afraid of other children because he was mostly with children without disabilities, and he didn't have the typical interactions that and the experience being with children without disabilities.

As we became aware of IDEA and educated on issues of quality of life for people with disabilities, we decided that he should attend the regular kindergarten in his home school. Our initial meeting with the school district, there were 11 professionals telling us that our child, who most of them had never met or had met for just a brief observation, that he should be placed in a specific segregated class based on his diagnosis. We were told that if we insisted that he would go to his home school in the regular class, that he would actually get less services because the supports were available at the other placement. On his Notice of Recommended Assignment they felt a need to put that we demanded inclusion in some way to cover, I guess, themselves.

Within a few weeks of attending regular kindergarten, he stopped crying around other children. He started interacting and making friends with children in his community. He didn't always participate in all the class activities only because the teacher and the staff lacked the training, and they lacked the supports. They did put forth a lot of effort, and he was happy in the class. He was able to grow and learn.

For his extended school year services, which are services provided to children in the summertime to help them maintain their skills, the school district could not provide training on his communication device, and the reason stated was that there was not staff available in the summertime. We were told that if they gave them services based on certain needs, that it would open up a can of worms for other students. We did not want to create a conflict with the team that we wanted to work with, so we accepted what they determined they could provide based on their calculators and not on Shaun's needs.

For his first grade individual education plan, the team decided that he should learn to type on a computer, which, by the way, he is very good on the computer. He can access the Internet by himself, right? And this they wanted to teach him to type instead of write because of his limited fine motor skills. And even though the law states that the IEP is supposed to be implemented within 10 days, he never did get a computer in the class for that. In the middle of first grade we were told that his computer was on the way as soon as the school psychologist got his new computer, and now Shaun is nearing the end of second grade, and there still isn't a computer in the class. There is one for the whole class that they can all use, but it is not accessible to Shaun. They got an old computer in the back that they could say is his, but it doesn't have the software in it for him to learn to type, and it is not accessible to him, and it is not located near his desk. Neither system can operate the software to teach him to type, and neither is accessible.

And I also recently spoke with the principal, and I said what I see happening next year was Shaun learning to type. When the other kids were writing, he was typing at his desk. And she said they would like to see that, but they just didn't have the funding to make that happen.

In our State in Pennsylvania we have Intermediate Units known as IUs, which are centrally located resources to provide supports and services for schools within each county. Well, this sounds cost-effective and good in theory. The practice does little good for my child when those with the knowledge and expertise of how to educate them are occasional visitors and observers to his class. The technology and the knowledge are not useful to him unless they are located where he needs and when he needs to use it.

I was also present at our county's recent training on the new IDEA reauthorization, and I was surprised that a lot of the administrators kind of changed around what I felt was the interpretation of the new law, and they said that the access to the regular education curriculum didn't really mean access to the regular educational class, but that it brought the curriculum to the special ed classes.

IDEA provides an avenue for knowledgeable parents to overcome local prejudice and reluctance to change. What Shaun and other children need to access, what the law provides, is the funding for appropriate supports and services that remain portable and follow the individual child. I believe that a lack of funding is a major detriment to fulfilling the promise of IDEA of giving children with disabilities access to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.

Shaun needs the funding to support training the people working with him every day, and for the related things such as substitutes so that the staff can go on to the training. The teachers, the instructional assistants and the other team members must be knowledgeable in supporting children with disabilities. They need to be educated on assistive technology, adaptations and modifications.

We have dreams for Shaun, just as all parents have dreams for their children. I have attached we wrote a vision statement for his future that we read at each meeting when we meet with the professionals, and I attached it to the testimony, which basically states that we want to keep him on a path leading to him being a part of the community and not apart from it. He is first and foremost a child who secondly happens to have a disability. His quality of life is depending on accessing the same things that would give quality to any other child's life. He is a bright, happy boy who can learn to use his abilities and can become a contributing member of adult society. He needs you to provide the funding to make education accessible to him with appropriate supports.

We feel that we are constantly battling the system to give Shaun accessibility to meet his needs. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. We have achieved only a portion of what is actually needed. Other children are not as fortunate to have parents or others to fight for their rights and their needs. Increased funds will reduce the adversarial relationships between parents and schools, and it will help ensure that children's needs are not determined by a calculator or how hard their parents fight, but that the needs are determined based on the individual child.

I also wanted to add outside of testimony that I had written that when they bring resources into the class for Shaun, it is not just special ed and it is his resource in the class. It benefits all the children in the class. The extra instructional assistance in the classroom is there to bring the ratio down for the entire class. When they use certain techniques that help him learn, it helps all the children learn, and it helps the children learn to interrelate with people who have different needs.


Ms. Tomko. Go ahead Shaun.

Ms. Lee. Technology breakdown, that is too bad.

Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, could you ask if she needs a little more time because she may be able to complete her testimony after Ms. Lee testifies.

Chairman Goodling. That will be fine.



Ms. Lee. She is going to work on the technology while I speak.

My name is Stephanie Smith Lee and this is my daughter, Laura. We are here on behalf of the National Down Syndrome Society. NDSS conducts education advocacy and research on behalf of the thousands of individuals with Down Syndrome in this country. I am also here as a mother who has actively volunteered at the local, State and Federal level on special education issues.

We want to first thank you for holding this hearing and sincerely thank you for the bipartisan support for the recent reauthorization of IDEA, Mr. Goodling, Mr. Martinez, Mr. Kildee, Mr. Scott, Mr. Greenwood, and others of you working on that group that did such a marvelous job.

We also want to thank you for your support that we have heard this morning for Federal special education funding, and particularly thank Chairman Goodling for your leadership over the last 2 years in attaining an additional $1.5 billion in funding for IDEA.

In reviewing the Federal Government's commitment to funding special education, it is important to remember how things were before the passage of P.L. 94-142 back in 1975. Prior to that time, over 1 million children with disabilities were excluded from school altogether, and many others were housed in dehumanizing institutions. In 1970 only 7 States educated more than half of their students with disabilities; many States had laws to exclude certain students, such as those with mental retardation; and another 3.5 million students received inappropriate education. There was little parental involvement. Students often failed or dropped out of school and the majority of students with disabilities could not find employment.

Two landmark Supreme Court decisions that we have heard referred to earlier clearly stated that the right of children with disabilities to a free appropriate public education is grounded in the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

It clearly established the responsibilities of States and local school districts to educate the students. When 94-142 was drafted, it was guided by these court decisions and by the recognition that there was a proper Federal role in ensuring that all children with disabilities are provided the equal opportunity that the Constitution guarantees.

IDEA is a civil rights law, it is not an unfunded mandate. However, when it was drafted, and I know Mr. Goodling and some of you were here, and Mr. Kildee, 1976 almost Mr. Kildee. When it was drafted, a grants to States program was included to assist States in meeting their constitutional obligation to educate these students, and Congress committed 40 percent of the excess cost to help pay for it.

There are compelling reasons why the Federal Government should make it a top priority to continue to substantially increase special education funding until that promise is fulfilled.

IDEA is the lifeline for 6 million children with disabilities. During the past two decades we have achieved the goal of access to education for all students. Now is the time to focus on funding and implementing the law and on educational outcomes. While there are pockets of excellence and thousands of dedicated hardworking educators, implementation of the law is spotty.

In a recent NDSS survey, our parents overwhelmingly reported that their number one concern is that an education in the least restrictive environment is just not an option for their children. Students with environmental disabilities are routinely sent to segregated classes outside of their communities.

Parents also report, and my family knows from personal experience, that our children are often not provided appropriate curriculum, the opportunity to read in a structured manner, or even textbooks. However, IDEA 97 holds great promise for improving educational opportunities. The emphasis on improved accountability by identifying what students should be learning and assessing what they learn, positive behavior supports, increased parental involvement, opportunities for inclusion, improved IEP and evaluation procedures will all make a tremendous difference. Including our children in the education reform movement and doing so with local control through State and local improvement grants will improve educational outcomes for students with disabilities and help them become as self-sufficient as possible.

To make the promise of IDEA 97 a reality for our children, it is essential that the Federal Government pay its fair share. Funding special education is an investment that makes long term economic sense as well as moral sense. Since the dark days of institutionalization before the passage of 94-142, millions of children now reside at home with their families, attend school and grow up to work at tax-paying jobs. The number of children and youth with developmental disabilities living in State institutions dropped from 70,000 in 1974 to 4,000 in 1994. At an average annual cost of $82,000 per person, that is a savings of $5.84 billion per year due to reduced institutionalization.

Now students with developmental disabilities are generally becoming tax-paying citizens. Many other aspects of special education funding are clearly cost effective. A recent Federal report clearly documents substantial cost benefits of early intervention services. Other preventions such as positive behavioral support saves money in the long run. Increasing funding for Part D improves teachers' ability to educate all students.

One last thought should be considered, and that is the emotional cost to families and children when a fair share of Federal funding is not provided and parents are pitted against each other. As a mother, I can tell you that it is painful to sit in a PTA meeting or a local school board meeting and hear our children referred to as expensive burdens and talked about as taking away money from other children.

It is time to recapture the collaborative spirit of IDEA 97, and for all of us in this room and across the country to work together in a bipartisan positive manner to fund and implement IDEA. And when funding increases are provided, that information needs to be widely disseminated and recognized. While we have heard unrest from educators about various aspects of IDEA, not a word has been heard about the $1.5 billion and how it is being used. Additional funding should carry additional accountability both for how the money is spent and for improved educational outcomes for students.

Thank you, and my daughter Laura would just like to add two sentences, if she may.

Ms. Laura Lee. My name is Laura Lee. Thank you for having us here today and supporting special education money.




Chairman Goodling. Ms. Tomko, are you ready?

Ms. Tomko. Yes. He has been real excited about doing this. Okay, Shaun.

Mr. Sean Tomko. Hello Congress. My name is Shaun Tomko. I am in second grade at Springfield Elementary School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I work, look, listen, play and eat with my friends at school. Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you.


Chairman Goodling. I have one question for the two superintendents.

As I travel throughout the country and visit special classes, I have a feeling that a lot of students in those classes are students who probably the only problem is a reading disability. Am I correct in my observation?

Mr. Smith. At Charlotte-Mecklenburg we have 11,000 students we serve, and about three-fourths of those are resource students in regular classrooms and a large population are students with reading difficulties that we think can be in large part prevented by some aggressive early intervention and maybe avoid some of these costs.

Mr. Van Newkirk. Out of our approximately 1,700 students or so, I would concur that there is a significant number in resource areas who are having a problem because of deficiency in reading ability, but I think I would add one caveat, Mr. Chairman. I believe much of that is because they came to school not ready to learn because of a variety of situations in their life that collectively affected their academic development.

Chairman Goodling. And I will ask one additional self-serving kind of question. Realizing that you have an Even Start program in your county, are you seeing in York City, is there any difference from those students who have had an Even Start experience?

Mr. Van Newkirk. Yes, we have seen a significant improvement in that category. The difficulty is that we are not able to accommodate a significant number of students. Where we are in the 18 to 25 or so, we would like very much to see that multiplied tenfold. Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Martinez.

Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am going to be very brief if I possibly can, except I would like to start out with an observation. As I have sat here and listened, it occurs to me that many times we do a disservice to the children with disabilities, and I think you testified a little bit about this in your testimony, Ms. Lee. When we start talking about and educators do this, certainly when educators do it, they talk about or they imply that the service for the disabled children takes away from the service for other children.

Since the real question is are we responsible for making sure that every child is educated, well educated, and if the answer to that question is yes, then we should not start drawing a line and dividing and pitting against each other the two factions, because our responsibility is to educate all children, and educators ought to know that more than anybody else. If it is more costly to educate some children the Chairman asked the question just now, are there many children in this program that reading disability or reading is their disability and the answer was yes, a significant number.

And he asked the question does Even Start or early intervention, which suggests that early intervention does help, would that further the goal towards keeping children from this special ed program into the regular mainstream and the answer is yes, early intervention does help.

The problem is when we are talking about that number, three-fourths of the 11,000, don't tell me that the three-fourths of the 11,000 that have a reading disability or reading comprehension as their problem, that they are as costly as a child like Shaun; it couldn't possibly be. So the child there should never be compared to those other children the way that you are talking about cost factors.

But the question that I have is first one to the educators. What if there was no law giving the parents the right to make sure that their children get an appropriate education? Would you just not do so because it is was too costly?

As testified by Ms. Lee, even with the law in place, it is difficult for parents to access education. I think Ms. Tomko indicated initially she had difficulty making the school authority in her area apprised of what she was entitled to and making sure that she got it. So the question is would you simply not do it because it is too costly?

Mr. Smith. Absolutely not. We would provide a service to the best of our ability. And I agree with you wholeheartedly, I think most superintendents in America would as well, our responsibility is to educate all children. Certainly each child has unique needs, whether they are classified in some formal way as having special needs or not, and the costs associated with that are going to differentiate.

Unfortunately as Congress makes tough choices about priorities, we have to also; but our goal is to provide a best possible education to all children.

Mr. Van Newkirk. Mr. Martinez, in the City of York we do not in any way diminish planning an educational program for a youngster regardless of educational needs.

One of the things I would like to address is that I do not believe that educators ever intend to pit people one against the other. For example, my comment could well have been interpreted in that respect when I indicate we make a decision not to do something so that we absolutely guarantee the law. My intent in doing that is an indication that a local community makes a choice. I believe that the choice for all children is appropriate, and I want to identify that if someone requires an action, they should help provide the resources to accommodate that action. Anyone who is in education and believes that one child deserves less than another in Pennsylvania, for example, should lose their commission. Others should probably have their degree revoked.

I think what happens is if you are not careful, individuals in one spectrum of the education arena of a set of parents will feel pressured by another set, and I think what we need to do as a collective society and that is why I made my third recommendation, that in a collective society we all work for the common good. That is the only reason government exists is for the common good and the perpetuation of what we know as our form of government in our country.

Ms. Lee. I was going to say part of the confusion is because IDEA is both a civil rights law and a States grants program. If there was no money attached to it, the States and local schools would still have the constitutional responsibility to educate those children. But we fully support having the money there. There are real pressures on the local school budgets and the local schools do need more money to implement it, but I think that is where a lot of confusion comes in.

Mr. Martinez. The fact is that I believe it is the State's responsibility, and I said that at another joint hearing on the Senate side, the responsibility is to educate all children. Whether or not we provide the money, they have to do it if they live up to their responsibility.

Now, we did pass a law saying that we would provide 40 percent, and I think we ought to do that. Like I said, every educator, every administrator has said the same thing. It is very costly to educate these children. Realizing that, we should realize that these school districts need that support.

I have to ask this question because it is pertinent to the discussion here. Ms. Tomko, what would you do if there was no law that enabled you to make the school district provide an education for your children? Do you feel that your taxes that you pay now go towards making sure that your child does get an education, or do you feel that since it is going to be more costly to educate your child, that you should pay for it yourself?

Ms. Tomko. I remember hearing someone say that when we say "all," we have to remember which part of all. That people don't understand, so when we are talking about all children, we have to say what we are giving has to be accessible to all or we are not fulfilling our promise.

And I am familiar with a lot of other parents that even with the funding that we have now, if they are not knowledgeable on the law right now, a lot of parents and especially in my county, Shaun is probably the first child in our district to be included that has his amount of needs, and that is because parents don't know that you have a right to fight. You have this great law and they are protected by it, but the parents don't know about it to be able to take any action.

If we didn't have the funding and the school completely said no, I am not sure what I would do. Maybe I would open up my own school in my house because I don't believe that he should have to be shipped away just because the system or funding leads that way. I think he has the right to the same quality of life as any other children.

Mr. Martinez. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Greenwood.

Mr. Greenwood. I think Shaun is running out of gas, but so are we. About ten more minutes.

I want to follow up on the previous line of questioning about pitting one group against another because we certainly don't want to do that. Shaun attends the same school district that my daughters attend, and I don't feel that Shaun is taking from my daughters, and one of my daughters is a beneficiary of special education funding and I don't think that she I don't feel competitive with other parents, but we do have to make decisions here in Washington about our priorities.

And the question that I would like to pose to each of the panelists is pretty straightforward. That is: Do you believe we should move ahead with brand new heretofore non-existing Federal programs such as Federal money for building schools or Federal money for hiring teachers before or after we fully fund at 40 percent of excess costs special education?

Do you think we should, A, get to 40 percent and then if we have some new bright ideas go ahead with them? Or go ahead with new ideas before we reach the 40 percent funding of excess costs? Dr. Smith, perhaps?

Mr. Smith. First of all I think we only have to live up to our obligations that we already have made to ourselves, and so I fully support the full funding of IDEA. There are other vital programs that exist that are funded currently by the Federal Government that are vital to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system; the Title I money, that is how we pay for the 1,800 pre-kindergarten children in our program. I wouldn't support that move if it meant that we were just shifting dollars from one to another if we are not enhancing with more dollars. More money is needed.

There are certainly other needs out there in public education, and I say that the facilities issue my friends down in the southern part of Louisiana and Mississippi have horrendous facilities issues that they are dealing with and those are critical pieces. And somehow localities, the States or the Nation is going to have to address those at some point if we continue to move education forward.

I would call for the full funding of IDEA, but not at the expense of other quality programs which are making a difference.

Mr. Van Newkirk. You have asked us to establish a priority and my priority is special education. I believe that facilities and the teacher issue can be resolved at the State level.

I do wish to put on the record it is difficult for me to comprehend, Mr. Greenwood, in a Nation of such immense wealth where we can pay people millions of dollars to play baseball or basketball or football, and yet when you talk about something as critical as finding an educational program that is necessary for each and every child and funding it, it becomes a major discussion issue. Something isn't quite right.

Ms. Tomko. I think in an ideal world it wouldn't matter which one would come first because it would all work out, but in reality because of the local prejudice against children with disabilities and giving them access to the regular classes and giving them the supports that they need to be successful, I believe that that needs to be a priority. And because there is no discrimination against, you know the schools, if you have a bad school, it discriminates equally against all of the children and it is not being focused on one minority group. And I think that the funding for children for the special education services to come to children, that is something that is a prejudice if it is not there.

Ms. Lee. There are many important educational programs and it would be helpful in looking at the entire budget if education as a whole was made a higher priority within the budget and the amount of funding for education was increased.

Having said that, it is our view that funding special education should be the top priority among those important educational priorities. I would never advocate taking money from one program or another, but this is something that needs to be done soon.

Chairman Goodling. Congressman Scott.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First I would like to ask unanimous consent for a letter written by Mayor Jimmy Eason and many other Mayors and Chairman of the Board of Supervisors from the Hampton Roads area, representing all or most of the districts represented by Congressmen Bateman, Pickett, Sisisky, and myself outlining the economic strain that special education has on the localities, but also admonishing us not to cut other programs as we increase funding for IDEA.

Chairman Goodling. Without objection.



Mr. Scott. Ms. Lee, I would like to thank you for pointing out the difference between the civil rights aspect of the law and the funding aspect.

I was in elementary school in 1954 when the Supreme Court imposed another mandate on localities that they educate black children, and the schools didn't wait for Federal funding before they complied with that.

Dr. Van Newkirk, if you got a block grant rather than funding for if you eliminate a lot of the funding that we have now for special programs and put them in a block grant, what would you not fund that is presently mandated by some of the programs right now?

Mr. Van Newkirk. Would you repeat your question?

Mr. Scott. You have a lot of programs that are going to localities that are specifically funded. The suggestion has been made that we increase funding by IDEA by block granting a lot of other programs, Goals 2000, Eisenhower, training for educators, school-to-work transition funding, a lot of programs, just block granting them or cutting them and using that money to fund IDEA.

What would you not do if we block granted those programs or cut those programs?

Mr. Van Newkirk. Using that as a forced choice question, I would indicate that we would probably eliminate all of our staff development because currently we do no staff development in my district without Federal assistance, and all of my student services program is paid for by Federal dollars. And it is conceivable that my deans of students, my home school liaisons would be eliminated in terms of having that money shifted to IDEA.

I think it is important, however, Mr. Scott, that the government identify its priority as well by saying this stands alone because of its importance and our commitment. That is my opinion.

Mr. Scott. If you cut staff development, would your school system be better off or worse off?

Mr. Van Newkirk. It would not be any better off.

Mr. Scott. Dr. Smith, I apologize that I wasn't here when you were introduced. I understand that your entire biography was not mentioned. You are familiar with Magruder Elementary School in Newport News?

Mr. Smith. Familiar and very proud of Magruder Elementary.

Mr. Scott. Several years ago, 2 percent of the students were at grade level. A new superintendent came from another part of Virginia to Newport News, and when he left about 80 percent of the students at Magruder Elementary School were at grade level. Could you tell the panel what you did?

Mr. Smith. I worked with a great team in Newport News, Virginia. You were part of that team, Representative Scott.

There was a concerted effort to improve student achievement. In part was a pre-kindergarten program, as we are doing at Charlotte-Mecklenburg, that moved Title I money, Federal funding in large part to support a pre-kindergarten program.

There was a very focused literacy program in grades K through 2, with strong support, staff development and professional development of our teachers, and time and adequate materials to teach the students successfully. There was differentiated staffing, and the list goes on. But it was a very focused effort that we applied at Magruder, along with strong school leadership and a strong faculty and strong community support.

I would share with you the most striking thing in this discussion is a large portion of students that had previously come from Magruder would have been classified as special ed students. Many of them would have been placed into some form of special programs. Because of the efforts that were applied there, we were able to avoid that cost.

Mr. Scott. Could that success be replicated?

Mr. Smith. Absolutely. As a matter of fact, it is at Charlotte-Mecklenburg today.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Kildee.

Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for not being here at the beginning of the hearing, but I had another hearing to attend.

Before 94-142, Michigan was ahead of the curve. I was a sponsor of Public Act 198 which mandated special education in Michigan, and it is interesting that I am glad we have two parents here today, because that bill was passed not because school boards approached us or superintendents or principals, it was passed only because of parental advocacy. And I think that same parental advocacy is vitally needed if we are to keep our commitment to funding this 40 percent.

I think it is a civil right; but sometimes it takes some money to make sure that those civil rights are adequately protected. And I really believe that Congress has used as an excuse during the 22 years that I have been here that we have a deficit, and we no longer have that deficit and we no longer have that excuse, and I think we really should keep our commitment. I think it is very important to keep our commitment.

I think that is where parental advocacy can play a very vital role as it played in passing Public Act 198 in Michigan. So important was parental advocacy that I can recall after we passed the bill and I managed the bill through Committee and on the floor and in conference the superintendents of my county had an emergency meeting which they asked me to attend, and all but one pleaded with me to do several things: first of all, to delay one more year the implementation of the bill, which I refused to do, and then I put in the bill from age 0 through 26. It is very important that you start very, very early on these children, and they suggested that we change that from age 5 through 18, which I again refused to do.

I point that out primarily to indicate that I am glad we have two parents here today because the parental advocacy is essential in this. I believe it is a civil right, but we have spent a lot of money on other civil rights to make sure that the civil rights were protected, so I would hope that now that we no longer have the excuse of a deficit indeed we have a surplus even in this very year that we should get our priorities arranged correctly, and I think the care and education of our children has to be a very, very high priority.

And I know Mr. Goodling and I have marched together on these things. He is one of the finest members of the Congress that I have ever had the privilege of serving with, and I look forward to working with him to see that now that we no longer have that excuse, that we do something to protect that civil right. Thank you very much.

Chairman Goodling. I want to thank all of you for testifying. Particularly I want to thank Shaun and Laura for testifying this morning.

We realize that we have not done very well funding a mandate that is pretty much 100 percent from Federal level.

As I said before Mr. Kildee came, he and I tried for 6 years on the Budget Committee but his majority didn't listen. We are hoping that my majority is listening, and they seem to be listening a little better the last 3 years, and we hope that their hearing will even get better as time goes on.

We thank you all very much for coming to testify before the Committee this morning.

[Whereupon, at 12:19 P.M., the Committee was adjourned.]