The Dems are in full meltdown mode about Sarah Palin as she closes the gap in the polls. So, naturally, they resort to gutter politics. Hacking Sarah's email, spreading ugly rumors about her pregnancy, trying to create "Troopergate", calling Bristol's cell phone. . .
but what bothered me the most was a piece from someone allegedly from Alaska, living in Ireland, who accused Sarah of slashing funding for special needs children. This is aimed at those of us in the disability community who are lining up to vote for McCain-Palin because of her promise to help our children if she is elected.
THIS IS PATENTLY FALSE.
Newsweek sets the record straight.
No Cut for "Special Needs" Kids
It's not true, as widely reported in mass e-mails, Web postings and at least one mainstream news source, that Palin slashed the special education budget in Alaska by 62 percent. CNN's Soledad O'Brien made the claim on Sept. 4 in an interview with Nicolle Wallace, a senior adviser to the McCain campaign:
O'Brien, Sept. 4: One are that has gotten certainly people sending to me a lot of e-mails is the question about as governor what she did with the special needs budget, which I'm sure you're aware, she cut significantly, 62 percent I think is the number from when she came into office. As a woman who is now a mother to a special needs child, and I think she actually has a nephew which is autistic as well. How much of a problem is this going to be as she tries to navigate both sides of that issue?
Such a move might have made Palin look heartless or hypocritical in view of her convention-speech pledge to be an advocate for special needs children and their families. But in fact, she increased special needs funding so dramatically that a representative of local school boards described the jump as "historic."
According to an April 2008 article in Education Week, Palin signed legislation in March 2008 that would increase public school funding considerably, including special needs funding. In particular, it would increase spending for certain special needs students that Alaska calls "intensive needs" (students with high-cost special requirements) from $26,900 per student in 2008 to $73,840 per student in 2011. That almost triples the per-student spending in three fiscal years. Palin's original proposal, according to the Anchorage Daily News, would have increased funds slightly more, giving intensive needs students a $77,740 allotment by 2011.
Education Week: A second part of the measure raises spending for students with special needs [the intensive needs group] to $73,840 in fiscal 2011, from the current $26,900 per student in fiscal 2008, according to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.
Unlike many other states, Alaska has relatively flush budget coffers, thanks to a rise in oil and gas revenues. Funding for schools will remain fairly level next year, however. Overall per-pupil funding across the state will rise by $100, to $5,480, in fiscal 2009. ...
Carl Rose, the executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, praised the changes in funding for rural schools and students with special needs as a "historic event," and said the finance overhaul would bring more stability to district budgets.
According to Eddy Jeans at the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, funding for special needs and intensive needs students has increased every year since Palin entered office, from a total of $203 million in 2006 to a projected $276 million in 2009.
Those who claim that Palin cut special needs funding by 62 percent are looking in the wrong place and misinterpreting what they find there. They point to an apparent drop in the Department of Education and Early Development budget for special schools. But the special schools budget, despite the similar name, isn't the special needs budget. "I don't even consider the special schools component [part of] our special needs funding," Jeans told FactCheck.org. "The special needs funding is provided through our public school funding formula. The special schools is simply a budget component where we have funding set aside for special projects," such as the Alaska School for the Deaf and the Alaska Military Youth Academy. A different budget component, the Foundation Program, governs special needs programs in the public school system.
And in any case, the decrease in funding for special schools is illusory. Palin moved the Alaska Military Youth Academy's ChalleNGe program, a residential military school program that teaches job and life skills to students under 20, out of the budget line for "special schools" and into its own line. This resulted in an apparent drop of more than $5 million in the special schools budget with no actual decrease in funding for the programs.