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(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, the Congressional committee working on the education reform bill voted to help schools hire new teachers to make classrooms less crowded but took a step backward on funding special education.

Class Size

Today, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization Conference Committee unanimously adopted recommendations to authorize a new Teacher Quality program, which will also help districts continue hiring high quality teachers to reduce classroom overcrowding.

Murray first introduced federal support for smaller classes in the appropriations process four years ago. For the past three years, Murray has successfully secured funding to help schools reduce class sizes. As a member of the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Murray secured more than $3 billion in the Senate education funding bill to help districts continue to reduce class sizes through the new Teacher Quality program.

"Smaller classes help students learn the basics with fewer discipline problems," Senator Murray said. "Today, we're continuing the progress we've made for more than two million students over the past three years."

IDEA- Special Education

However, Murray was disappointed that the conference committee rejected an amendment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Since 1975, the federal government has said it would provide 40% of the funding for special education. Unfortunately, today the federal government still only provides approximately 16% of that funding, putting a significant burden on schools and denying students the high quality education they deserve.

Over the years, Senator Murray has worked to increase funding for IDEA. Today, however, the committee failed to pass an amendment that would have fulfilled the federal government's commitment to students with disabilities. Although the amendment was passed by the Senators on the committee on a bipartisan vote, it was rejected by the committee's House Republicans on a party-line vote. As a result, full funding for students with disabilities remains an unresolved issue in the education reform bill.

"I'm deeply disappointed that a partisan vote kept Congress from meeting our commitment to students with special needs today," Murray said. "Fully-funding IDEA will help students with disabilities and will also free up billions of dollars that are needed to make this education reform bill work for students. I will continue to fight to fully-fund special education so all children can reach their full potential."