House GOP Proposes Cutting Special Education Funds, Despite GOP Chairman’s Call For More Funding

House Education Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN)

In their proposed continuing resolution — which would set funding levels for the rest of the fiscal 2011 year — House Republicans slash and burn their way through many important programs that boost economic growth and protect the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. And as Education Week reported, House Republicans also decided to cut funding for special education by $557 million.

In the list of proposed cuts released by the House Appropriations Committee, the reduction in special education funding is hidden as “part b grants to states.” This refers to Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which, as the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities pointed out, is “the foundation upon which special education and related services rest.”

This proposed cut comes after the House Education Committee chairman, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), has spent months saying that one of his priorities will be to “fully fund” special education, as “he thinks it is fundamentally unfair that the federal government mandates certain special education services while not paying its share of the bill.”

In fact, in 2009, Kline took to the House floor to harshly scold Congress for not giving enough funding to special education, saying that such funding needs to be there “for the long term”:

We have, for over 35 years, fallen short of our commitment, the government’s commitment, to fund special education and provide relief to every school in America…We need to get that base up and let our superintendants, our principals, our teachers, our parents, our families know that that money is going to be there for the long term.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has asked for a $200 million increase in special education funding in its fiscal year 2012 budget.

It’s not only special education funding that would meet the axe if the House Republican plan came to pass. They have also proposed cuts to the Pell Grant program that would lower the maximum grant by $845 and suggested completely eliminating the High School Graduation Initiative, a new administration program aimed at boosting high school graduation rates. A request for comment put in to Kline’s office by The Wonk Room has not been returned.