Opinion
Special Education Commentary

Federal File

May 12, 1999 1 min read

Past-due notice

Congress received a $146.9 billion “invoice” last week for late payments on special education.

The mock bill was sent by the Alexandria, Va.-based National Association of State Boards of Education, on behalf of states and local school boards.

It outlined the amount Congress has spent on state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act since it was first funded in 1977. The nearly $147 billion amount is the group’s calculation of how far federal appropriations have fallen short of the 40 percent of additional special education costs Congress promised to pay when the IDEA was passed in 1975.

Last week, the House approved a nonbinding resolution to increase funding under the IDEA before authorizing any new education programs. IDEA state grants were funded at $3.8 billion in the current fiscal year, but that allotment represents only 9.2 percent of the excess costs, NASBE estimates.

Getting the word out

Unlike some members of Congress, Rep. Bill Goodling and his staff are eager to give information to the press. They embrace a philosophy that using the media is the best way to get the GOP’s message out.

In exchange, the Pennsylvania Republican, who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee, is not shy about giving performance evaluations to the press.

“They follow the fight--they don’t follow the accomplishments,” Mr. Goodling said pointedly at a press conference on April 21, which was attended by a larger-than-usual audience of reporters because it was the day after the fatal shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Meanwhile, Mr. Goodling’s communications team is changing. Rebecca O. Campoverde, a former top administrator at the Department of Education during the Reagan and Bush administrations, is now director of communications for committee Republicans. She replaces Jay Diskey, who left last week to start a public relations firm after nearly two years as the committee Republicans’ chief spokesman.

And Dan Lara, the former deputy press secretary for the Joint Economic Committee, is the committee’s new press secretary. He replaces Bill McCarthy, who left last month after 1 1/2 years to become the deputy communications director for the Republican National Committee.

--Joetta L. Sack federal@epe.org

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A version of this article appeared in the May 12, 1999 edition of Education Week as Federal File

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