The presidential election is more than one year away but is never too early to learn about the candidate's positions on matters related to education and special education. As it appears likely that Mitt Romney is the likely Republican candidate his positions bear particular scrutiny. In a recent newspaper interview with a traditionally Republican New Hampshire paper (e-edition), Romney made the following statements:
"In a Romney administration, he said, the federal responsibility for public education from kindergarten through Grade 12 would be limited to providing data to the states.
“The federal government being a funder of state and local education is not in my opinion a necessary responsibility,” he said.
Special education “is a choice we can make, but it doesn't necessarily strike me as a responsibility of the federal government. It could be a responsibility of state governments.”
He said, however, that the federal government traditionally “picks up some portion of funding for special education, and I'm not proposing eliminating that or shifting that to the states. But it's not constitutionally required that the federal government deals with special education or other education programs.”
While these statements are not clear at all, and he seems to be taking the position that little will change in terms of the role of the federal government relative to the states on special education, he leaves open the significant possibility/probability of wholesale changes with each state having responsibility for special education. On issues related to funding, even in this one interview, he waffles from no federal funding for education to possibly continuing "some portion" of funding for special education. No funding to states for special education, if that is where he ultimately came out on the issue, would be nothing less than catastrophic! Bottom line for me is that any one who cares about special education could not possibly feel confident or rest easy, if Mitt Romney were to make it to the White House. Let's also remember that the next reauthorization of IDEA will likely come up during the next presidential term.