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Special Education To Feel $44 Million Pinch

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Special education programs across the country will be cut by $44 million this year as compared to last, but things could have been much worse, experts say.

With final federal budget numbers emerging after months of political haggling in Congress, it’s not immediately clear how the cuts will impact classrooms since funding has not been broken down to the school district level.

What is clear, however: no education program is going unscathed. Overall, the U.S. Department of Education budget was slashed by $1.3 billion for 2011 as compared to 2010.

“These are cuts we will feel,” says Lindsay Jones, senior director of policy and advocacy at the Council for Exceptional Children, a group representing special educators. “When money comes out of these programs it means less money for technology in the classroom, less money for specialists and less money for salaries for special education teachers.”

But she acknowledges the situation could be much worse. Earlier this year, Congressional Republicans proposed a $557.7 million cut to special education, a situation that would have represented a worse case scenario, Jones says.

“As cuts go, they are not as bad as they could have been,” she said. “It’s a harsh environment.”

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