Proposed Education Cuts Hurt Special Education

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To the Editor:

Now that an overall budget deal has been reached, adding billions of dollars to the federal budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, we urge Congress to reject proposed cuts for education and special education research, and provide these programs with a much-needed funding increase.

As members of the education and special-education research communities, we work every day to design and evaluate better strategies to improve academic achievement and social outcomes for all students, including those with and without disabilities, English-language learners, and students from low-income families.

The impact of high-quality education research isn't limited to university halls and Washington think tanks. Research, and the evidence it produces, has led directly to better outcomes for students, parents, teachers, and school leaders; and research helps policymakers use limited resources more effectively.

Despite the importance of research to improving the achievement of all students and ensuring cost-effectiveness in federal education spending, members of the House Appropriations Committee have proposed slashing the budget for the Institute of Education Sciences by nearly $164 million next fiscal year. That amount would include an $86 million cut to the Research, Development, and Dissemination line item—the largest program under the IES—and a separate cut of more than $18 million to the program for special education research.

While the proposed cuts would have a devastating impact on the education research community—decreasing research funding to levels not seen in 20 years—the biggest losers would be students, especially those who already face barriers to academic achievement.

We believe it is imperative that members of Congress and the Obama Administration ensure that our federal budget reflects the national importance we place on educational equity and opportunity for all young people. Restoring funding for critical education research is an essential first step.

Elizabeth Talbott
Division for Research
Council for Exceptional Children
Associate Professor, Special Education
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, Ill.

Glenn Good
Learning and Education Academic Research Network
College of Education
University of Florida
Gainesville, Fla.

Don Heller
Learning and Education Academic Research Network
College of Education
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Mich.

Donna Wiseman
Learning and Education Academic Research Network
College of Education
University of Maryland
College Park, Md.

Vol. 35, Issue 14, Page 22

Published in Print: December 9, 2015, as Proposed Education Cuts Hurt Special Education
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