President’s FY 2021 Budget leaves education out in the cold.

The administration released its proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 on February 10, 2020. While advocates for education funding were not surprised to see a proposed reduction in funding for the U.S. Dept. of Education ($6.1 billion or 8%), most were surprised to see a proposal to do away with almost all programs authorized under the ESEA and replace them with a new block grant known as the Elementary and Secondary Education for the disadvantaged block grant. The block grant would replace 29 programs while cutting $4.7 billion, or nearly 20 percent, of the funding those formula-based and competitively awarded programs received in fiscal year 2020.

While funding for Special Education is not part of the block grant proposal, such a significant reduction to programs serving other vulnerable populations would certainly have an impact on students with disabilities. Local districts would certainly need to look for savings in all areas, including special education, to offset the reduction in Federal funds. And, students with disabilities are disproportionately represented among low income students, English learners, neglected and delinquent, and homeless students – the students who will feel the brunt of the proposed reductions and elimination of use of funds. (To see how much your state would lose, check out this table put together by the Center for American Progress.)

Special Education. The FY 2021 budget proposes a $100 million increase for IDEA Part B grants to states – from FY2020 funding of $12,764 billion to $12,864 billion. But this increase is absorbed by the anticipated increase in the number of students to be served by special education (ages 3-21), resulting in no increase in “per child” funding. Click here for a history of Federal appropriations.

All other Special Education programs are funded at the FY2020 level:
Preschool grants (IDEA B-619) at $394.1 million
Grants for infants and families (IDEA Part C) at $477.0 million
National activities (IDEA Part D) at $229.6 million.
Special Olympics gets level funding ( $20.1 million) after receiving a hefty increase in FY2020.
Detailed information on the proposed budget for Special education is available here. (PDF, 93 pgs.)

Over in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Special education research is level funded at $56.5 million and Special education studies and evaluations also receives level funding at $10.8 million.

! Remember that the administration’s proposed budget is just that – a proposal to Congress. In the coming months, Congress will begin work on annual appropriations bills and hold hearings to explore the proposals. Stay tuned. !

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