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Special Education Column

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Over the past five years, New Mexico has lost about $17.5 million in federal funds because of its decision not to participate in the federal program supporting the education of handicapped children, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Education Department.

The state will lose another $5.5 million this year because officials failed to meet a Sept. 30 deadline for applying for fiscal 1983 funds. New Mexico is the only state in the country that does not accept federal funds under P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, and therefore is not bound by the provisions of the law.

During the 1982-83 school year, New Mexico served 26,334 handicapped students, representing about 8.8 percent of all school-age children in the state. Louis Danielson of the federal department's division of assistance to the states said state officials have been reviewing their current position on the federal program and may submit to the government a state plan for 1984-86.

Researchers for the National Rural Project contend, based on a survey they conducted recently of 200 special-education administrators, that budget reductions are limiting educational opportunities for handicapped children in rural areas.

About 74 percent of the respondents reported program difficulties as a result of state and federal funding cuts and, according to the researchers, the problem has become more pronounced since 1981, when the last survey was conducted. The administrators cited problems of recruiting and retaining special-education teachers and support staff, which they attributed to inadequacies in programs that prepare such personnel.

For more information, write the National Rural Project, Murray State University, Murray, Ky. 42071.

The narrative text of a slide show that was designed to dispel the mystery surrounding handicapped children who are in special-education classrooms will be one of more than 100 entries in a "curriculum volume" for teachers.

Sheila C. Bell, a coordinator for the Spokane Valley (Wash.) Cooperative for Special Education, produced the slide show two years ago with the assistance of her special-education students. Last year, she entered the project--entitled "Why Do We Have A Special Education Room At Our School and Why Are Those Kids In There, Anyway?"--into a competition sponsored by the National Education Association and the Eastman Kodak Company for classroom projects that involved the use of photography.

About 130 entrants were given cash awards toward the cost of their projects and about 119 of the entries, including Ms. Bell's show, are among the case studies selected for the curriculum volume. The volume will be available through the National Education Association's publications division, 1201 16th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.--sgf

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