Palin Gives Major Policy Address On Special Education, Disabilities

By Christina A. Samuels — October 24, 2008 1 min read
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Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, delivered a speech this morning in Pittsburgh outlining policy goals for special education and disability advocacy in a McCain administration.

Palin outlined a handful of goals, among the most sweeping of which would be portability of federal funds designated to states to educate children with disabilities and full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Palin cited Florida’s McKay Scholarships for students with disabilities, which allow parents to take the money that a school district would use for educating their child and use it for private school tuition. Palin said in a McCain administration, if state funds are portable, federal funds would be portable as well.

Full funding of IDEA has long been supported by both the McCain and Obama campaigns. When the disability education law was first passed, Congress said it would give the states 40 percent of the excess costs of educating a child with disabilities. However, that has never come to pass, and current federal funding levels hover around 18 percent. In her speech, Palin said the money for special education could come from reprioritizing current spending, such as getting rid of earmarks.

Palin also spoke of providing parents more information about the best treatments for infants and toddlers with disabilities."Parents need the best and latest information on what to expect and how to respond. This service is also provided for under the IDEA. And we will make sure that every family has a place to go for support and medical guidance. The existing programs and community centers focus on school-age children -- overlooking the need for assistance before school-age.” The centers should focus on infants and toddlers as well, she outlined in her speech.

I’m not sure if Palin is referring here to the Parent Training and Information Centers and the Community Parent Resource Centers that are funded by the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. The PTIs and CPRCs are already tasked with providing help to parents of infants and toddlers as well as school-age youth.

The Chicago Tribune had an exclusive interview with Palin yesterday where she talked more about these policy proposals, which you can read here.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.