Editorial: Schools already pay the price for special ed

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 3, 2001

From staff reports

The U.

Monday, December 03, 2001

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The U.S. House failed last week in an attempt to guarantee a $2.5 billion increase in special-education funds for schools. Proponents of the measure complained that kids with special-needs are being shorted, but that is the wrong way to frame the argument.

Students with special needs will get the help they need either way; the federal government mandates it. The only difference is whether the money to pay for the programs will come from the federal government or from the states and local school districts.

In Albert Lea, shortfalls in funding for special education are responsible for much of the projected budget problem. This means that other programs, like electives and extra-curriculars, will likely have to be cut instead.

Opponents of guaranteed money for special education said it could lead schools to place more students in special education classes instead of getting them help in regular classrooms. That’s hogwash. Schools are not going to take advantage of these programs. The issue, again, is not whether schools have access to special education – it is whether the federal government will be responsible enough to pay for its mandate.

A major burden would be lifted from local schools if Congress would agree on extra funding. It’s not going to happen unless representatives on both sides face the reality our schools deal with every day.