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Budget Cut for National Center on Special Education Research May Stick

It appears that a large budget cut to the National Center for Special Education Research made earlier this year won't be restored this week while Congress stitches together a 2012 budget.

The budget for the agency, which was about $71 million before Congressional action in April, was slashed by about $20 million, a blow to researchers working on special education issues.

In some cases, special education research goes to work for all students, said Lindsay Jones, of the Council for Exceptional Children. Response to intervention is one example.

"We view the funding from that center as an engine for innovation," she said. "Local school districts will approach local universities with questions or concerns and real world problems will turn into research projects. We have practitioners in the field that are craving that."

The current continuing resolution that keeps the federal government running expires tomorrow, but Ms. Jones doesn't believe lawmakers will find a way to restore the budget to what it was in the past. The Senate and House have proposed a 2012 budget that keeps funding for the center at the level to which it was cut in April.

But there's no telling what Congress will do.

"I'm worried it's going to get further cut," Ms. Jones said.

The research center hasn't been without controversy. Commissioner Edward Kame'enui stepped down in 2007 after questions were raised about a potential conflict of interest stemming from his involvement with the now-defunct Reading First program.

A permanent replacement for Mr. Kame'enui wasn't named until earlier this year.

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