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Illuminating policy brief on special education funding released

Parents of American public school children are quite familiar with the fact that educational budgets are being slashed in every possible way. Unfortunately, when educational spending gets cut, students and teachers tend to bear a host of negative consequences. Teachers may become burdened by pay cuts and increased workloads, while students are given less access to arts programs, sports, a broad curriculum and other opportunities. All too often, students with learning disabilities bear unique burdens when school budgets get cut.

Special education instruction requires staff to be trained in certain ways, certain special supplies and other unique resources. When special education budgets get cut, the changes can challenge an already vulnerable population of students in unfortunate ways. As a result of this frustrating reality, a number of private and public organizations are exploring ways to better ensure that special education funding is either uniquely protected or can better adapt to inevitable cuts.

The conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently released a policy brief on the subject which stresses that current special education funding approaches are dated, ineffective and expensive and should therefore be reformed. The president of the institute recently explained that the current funding approach under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is, “input-driven, rule-bound, compliance-obsessed and inattentive to learning outcomes. It is sorely out of touch with an era oriented to academic standards and achievement."

Whether the policy brief’s conclusions are both correct and complete is a matter for discussion. However, the issues raised by the brief are urgent, important and deserve attention accordingly.

Source: The Huffington Post, “3 Ways Districts Can Pay For Special Education Students: Report,” Joy Resmovits, Nov. 25, 2013

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