In The Politics of Autism, I discuss Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as other government programs at the federal and state levels.
Special educators are fanning out across Capitol Hill Tuesday, spreading a few targeted messages for Washington lawmakers: Congress should pass a budget that allocates more money to special education and gifted education, oppose efforts to divert public money to private school vouchers, and fight any bill that would cut Medicaid coverage for children's health services.
So-called "Hill days" are a tradition for advocacy groups of all types. But members the Council of Exceptional Children and the Council of Administrators of Special Education, who have joined together this year for a "special education legislative summit," report feeling particular pressure to get their points across.
"I am feeling a huge sense of urgency," said Tara Rinehart, the director of special services for the Wayne Township in Indianapolis, a 16,200-student urban district. She met with her superintendent before making the trip to hammer out talking points to share with Indiana's congressional delegation—one of which was to preserve Medicaid.
The district, like many others, uses Medicaid funds to provide services to children with disabilities who are eligible for the program. But the program has a broader reach for her student body, she said: About 55 percent of the children in the district rely on the program.
Paul Zinni, the superintendent of the 700-student Avon, Mass., district, said one of his goals is a perennial one for special educators—getting a larger federal investment in special education. And he's also worried about school choice provisions that might leave a difficult-to-fill hole in his budget.