Sunday, November 2, 2008

Obama vs. McCain on Special Needs Children

In a Wall Street Journal interview published today, Sarah Palin says that if she were elected VP, her portfolio would include policy for children with special needs.

For such families, the key issue has long been fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Under the original act passed in 1975, the federal government promised to cover 40% of the costs of educating children with disabilities, but it has never kept that promise. Currently, the feds only cover about 12% of those costs. As a result, special education programs have long been starved for funds, and such programs are a drain on local school districts. Bush's refusal to fully-fund IDEA is what drove Sen. Jim Jeffords to abandon the Republican party in 2001.

Biden and Obama strongly support fully funding special education. In fact, Biden was a co-sponsor of the original IDEA legislation way back when he was a freshman senator.

In a press release issued a week ago, McCain said that he favors fully funding IDEA, but it's hard to see how this is credible given that he's voted against doing so multiple times, most recently last year.

You can find the summary of the Obama-Biden disability policy here
and a PDF with their disability policy plans here. And here's the blog of Obama's disability policy director.

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