Districts Should Lose Funds If They Reduce Spec. Ed.

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

The “maintenance of effort” requirement in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grew out of the inability of states and local education agencies to provide sufficient financial resources to meet their duty to educate children with disabilities. It refers only to the money spent by local districts on the excess cost of special education and related services. Students with disabilities feel cuts to general education budgets as acutely as their counterparts without disabilities. Most spend the majority of their day in general education classrooms—when class size is increased, they feel it. When instructional materials are cut back, they feel it.

Congress expressly provided for circumstances that allow districts to reduce local spending and remain at that new, lower level. The U.S. Department of Education’s new interpretation of the IDEA’s maintenance-of-effort provision (“Rules Relaxed on Budget Cuts to Special Ed.,” Sept. 14, 2011) falls outside the authority of the agency. And, if the Education Department feels confident that districts will continue to provide the funding needed to meet their obligations to students with disabilities, we need to look no further than the reports issued year after year, by both the department and the National Council on Disability, regarding the failure of states and districts to provide an appropriate education for the nation’s 6 million special education students.

To be clear, this requirement is a condition of receiving annual federal funds for special education. If districts want to violate maintenance of effort, they are free to do so. And, by doing so, they should sacrifice their eligibility for federal funds, and not continue to enjoy those funds while failing to provide adequately for their students with disabilities, which the Education Department’s new guidance appears to allow.

Candace Cortiella
The Advocacy Institute
Washington, D.C.

Vol. 31, Issue 06, Page 20

Published in Print: October 5, 2011, as Districts Should Lose Funds If They Reduce Spec. Ed.
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories