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Policy Post: Show Me The Money

February 16, 2011

This week President Obama released his proposed 2012 budget. It kicks off what will be an extensive debate given all the discussion that federal spending had in the recent election. We’ll likely hear a lot about the behemoths of defense spending, Social Security, or Medicare and very little about Special Education. By comparison, Special Education is certainly small (a.36% portion of the proposed budget) but school districts, teachers and parents will have a lot to say about it.

The proposed budget calls for an increase of $200 million to federal funding for Special Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This brings it to a total of $11.7 billion. As the Center for Exceptional Children and others point out though, this is still well short of the full 40% of funding per student that’s called for in the IDEA. This is not new, to date the federal government has yet to met this commitment. This chart from the New America Foundation shows how this compares to the past 10 years.

You’ll notice the level remains fairly consistent with a brief spike in 2009 from the federal stimulus. Long story short, nothing is dramatically changing. On the plus side, you could argue this is the best you’d could hope for given the proposed freeze to most domestic spending. On the down side, you could argue this is bad considering the tighter budgets from states and schools, particularly as stimulus funding begins to run out.

However the federal budget debate ends this time around, Court’s Kids will continue to help fill the unmet needs it finds and improve special education however it can.


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