Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Special Education as Part of Economic Recovery
The economic stimulus package as passed by the House of Representatives includes an increase for special education funding. The Part B funds would increase by 13 Billion dollars over two years, more than doubling the federal outlay. The current federal expenditure is about 17% of the excess cost of special education. This proposed increase would raise that to an all time high of 27%. This is still way short of the long-promised 40%, but what a dramatic effect this should have on local school districts. Additionally, the funding for Part C (infants and toddlers) also more than doubles over two years. This would be a very god result for kids with disabilities.
The press release of the Appropriations Committee can be found here. A good summary by the excellent policy department at the Council for Exceptional Children can be read here. This is just a house bill at this point, it still has to pass the house and the Senate and be signed by the President. What a big change though. This must have been approved by the incoming President. All signs are good here.
I'm glad that education is playing an important role in the recovery. The economy does not exist in a vacuum; there is a pretty clear relationship between education and our economic condition. More importantly for our readers, special education is being included. At a time when many school districts are strapped for cash, the press release of Appropriations notes that these additional funds will permit continuation of mandatory special ed programs without cutting other important areas of education. This is an important bill. Please write, call or email your House and Senate representatives and let them know how you feel about the increase in special education funding.