Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Budget Issues

At Education Week, Christina Samuels notes federal budget issues:
Full funding: This budget doesn't come close to funding IDEA at the level that Congress is authorized to spend. When the IDEA was passed in 1975, Congress gave itself permission to send to states up to 40 percent of the "average per pupil expenditure" to meet the goals of the law. In contrast, the federal contribution to special education in this budget proposal is around 13 percent. The amount of federal money proposed per pupil ages 3-21—$1,758—has actually gone down a bit, by $12, compared to the previous fiscal year. That's because the number of special education students has gone up. Will lawmakers ask DeVos about this (and will any of them commit to pushing for a full-funding bill themselves?)

Equity in IDEA rule: This topic isn't directly related to the budget proposal, but it does involve money. A federal district judge ruled that the Education Department cannot delay a rule intended to prompt states to pay closer attention to minority overrepresentation in special education. The rule is complicated, but the upshot is that more school districts may find themselves having to spend a portion of their federal funds on remedying what the law calls "significant disproportionality." The judge made her ruling March 7, and the Education Department hasn't offered a public hint yet of whether it will continue to defend its delay. Congressmembers might attempt to get some clarification on the Department's plans.

Scholarship program and students with disabilities: The administration is supporting a $5 billion scholarship program that would provide federal tax credits to individuals and companies that donate to scholarship-granting groups. If passed, these scholarships could help pay for a variety of educational activities, including helping special education students attend private schools. Students with disabilities who enroll in private school lose some of the individual protections that come with the IDEA, however. Democratic lawmakers have frequently pressed DeVos on this issue, and it might come up again.