Today President Obama released his budget request for FY 2013. The request for the U.S. Department of Education is $69.8 billion. Most programs – including funds to support local school district with the excess cost of special education (IDEA, Part B) are funded at the same level as the previous year (FY2012).
So what does this mean for special education? It means that President Obama (presumably based on the recommendation of his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan) feels that IDEA doesn’t deserve the amount of federal funding promised to it in IDEA.
The IDEA authorized federal funding in the amount of 40% of the excess cost of special education, based on the Annual Per Pupil Expenditure or APPE. During his campaign, Obama pledged to support “full funding” for IDEA. He put it this way:
“Fully Funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Barack Obama has been a strong and consistent advocate for fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Congress promised to shoulder 40 percent of each state’s “excess cost” of educating children with disabilities, but it has never lived up to this obligation. Currently, the federal government provides less than half of the promised funding (17 percent). Children are being shortchanged, and their parents are forced to fight with cash-strapped school districts to get the free and appropriate education the IDEA promises their children. Fully funding IDEA will provide students with disabilities the public education they have a right to, and school districts will be able to provide services without cutting into their general education budgets. In addition to fully funding IDEA, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the Act.”
Yet the President’s FY2013 budget request seeks an IDEA Part B funding level that will provide approximately 16% of the excess cost – not 40%. The budget request estimates that this would provide $1,72 per child for an estimated 6.6 million students with disabilities.
Advocates for full funding of IDEA should give up on President Obama. It is clear that his administration cares more about competitive initiatives like Race to the Top than keeping a promise to fully fund IDEA.
So, lets get ready to hear continued criticism about the cost of special education to local school districts.
No hope, no change.