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How should California apply increased special education funding?

When it comes to funding for special education and California’s students with disabilities, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legions of lawmakers spanning the state agree … to disagree.

No one is arguing that California’s special education programs don’t urgently need a material infusion of money. What is being debated (and rather stridently), though, is the approach that should be taken to best promote optimal outcomes for special ed programs throughout the state.

Here is what Newsom is centrally pitching: a $691 million sprinkling of new funds to California’s school districts to be administered by the state’s 134 regional special education agencies.

That recommendation might facially seem unobjectionable. Critics abound, though, with one of their core arguments being that such an approach -- which is an endorsement of the current funding system -- would perpetuate existing inequities.

A recent media report on the funding battle underscores the strong disagreement between Newsom’s supporters on the issue and a broad band of dissenting commentators. It notes the widely held view that the governor’s recommendation would yield harmful results. Reportedly, say critics, “fewer than a quarter of the state’s school districts would qualify for any of the new money and once they get it, they could spend it however they want.”

An alternative strategy promoted by legislative leaders in both the state Senate and Assembly takes a notably different tack. It stresses a greater equalization of funding among the above-cited agencies and, importantly, a funding infusion targeting special education preschool students and programs. Notably, California’s preschool students with disabilities do not presently receive any state funding.

California parents of children in special ed programs obviously have a deep interest in the above subject matter and related developments. They can turn to an experienced special education attorney for candid guidance and proven representation concerning any legal challenges or issues they face.

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