SPED funding now a little less special
NCLB waivers, meet your new federal pal, easement of special education “maintenance of effort” requirements. Traditionally, IDEA has been interpreted to require school districts to maintain (or increase) their spending on special education from year to year or else face stiff penalties. Districts could apply for one-year waivers for particular reasons—for example, the graduation of an extremely expensive student, which might send costs lower. But they were expected to resume their higher spending the next year. A June letter from ED to the National Association of State Directors of Special Education trumpets a different tune. Now, the Department says districts may lower their special-education and then keep the same level in subsequent years as well. This small but significant change signals a willingness to rethink special-education spending’s status as untouchable—which is critical in this time of fiscal austerity. As Sasha Pudelski, a staffer for the American Association of School Administrators, told Education Week, “Fairness dictates that all programs and populations share in the burden of cuts, rather than holding a single program exempt.” Precisely.
“Feds Loosen Rules on Cutting Special Ed. Funding,” by Nirvi Shah, Education Week, August 31, 2011.
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