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Can Money Be Saved in Special Education?

A confession: releasing an article out into the world can sometimes be a little nerve-wracking. That's especially true when the topic is special education funding, which I wrote about for this year's edition of Quality Counts, Education Week's fine analysis of education nationwide. (The full table of contents can be found here, and I encourage everyone to read these articles.)

Special education funding is a particularly touchy subject. Advocates have argued for a long time that special education is underfunded by the federal government, and that their children are taking the blame for straining school budgets.

That's not such a crazy fear to have. Last year the outgoing superintendent of Los Angeles schools, Ramon C. Cortines, said in a Los Angeles Times article that "When you fund some of the special ed things, you're taking from regular kids." Some parents responded with predictable dismay, and Cortines clarified his remarks in a letter to the editor. (see bottom of web page.)

But our Quality Counts publication presents in detail that the budget crunch is real. I predict that special education will find itself a part of a conversation about getting the most out of every education dollar. So let's start having this conversation here, because I know I have smart readers who are well-versed in the issues. What inefficiency in the practice of special education would you fix that would not harm the legal right of children with disabilities to receive a free and appropriate public education?

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