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Did Palin Cut Special Education Funding in Alaska?


Charges are flying around the Internet that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee who has a four-month-old son with Down syndrome, cut special education funding in her state. But a close look at budget documents by my colleague Christina Samuels shows that Palin actually increased state spending on special education.

Christina writes in On Special Education that these false charges spreading throughout the Web are driven by a misreading of the state's budget documents.

Read Christina's complete post here.

--Michele McNeil


While on the issue of clarifying rumor or fact - just a question:

Did Govenor Palin in her active PTA member days work to have books banned for the school library? If so what books?

Good question! This seems to be the most definitive story I've seen about this issue, which basically says that yes, Palin, asked the librarian about it, never mentioned specific books, and never followed through:


It appears from the reading of a variety of fact checking for this story is that Gov. Palin did cut spending for Special Needs and the funding will later rise in future spending budget of 2011 - and what I read did not account for the inflation or other factors.

As a long time Alaskan educator, I believe most Alaskan educators would say Palin has not been overwhelmingly supportive of Alaskan schools or teachers. She did not use the giant surplus to, for instance, pay off indebtedness that has built up for the Alaska Teacher Retirement System. Those statistics can be checked. In addition, recruiting new teachers is difficult in AK right now because the current retirement system has been gutted and benefits are not anywhere close to what they were even 8 years ago. We now have several tiers of benefits, with each new tier receiving less than the last. That is another educational issue that has been ignored by the Palin administration. You should also check what is happening with Denali Kid Care. This popular program for early childhood education and health care was cut just before Sarah was elected. I am not sure what Sarah's stand has been on that. It would be interesting to know.

Is it true that the Alaska special education budget went from $24,000 per child to $74,000 per child? I heard this on CNN last night.

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