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 Home > News> > IDEA 2003 > GOP Pushes School Choice & Special Ed by Ben Feller, AP (Feb 13, 2003)


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GOP Pushes School Choice & Special Ed
by Ben Feller, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Republican leaders are proposing legislation that would expand school vouchers and offer extra help for children with disabilities.

The bill highlights the GOP's push to let parents decide whether their tax money would be better spent on public or private schools.

The proposals planned to be released Friday will include up to $75 million in private-school vouchers for children who are eligible to transfer out of their failing schools but have no other public school available, GOP aides said.

Other plans include a voucher program for low-income students in Washington, D.C., and a new tax credit for families of poor children who transfer out of failing schools.

The bill renews a plan to direct the federal government to fulfill a promise it set in 1975 - paying 40 percent of the average cost of educating children with disabilities. That would happen by 2009 through yearly spending increases of roughly $2.5 billion.

The federal government now pays less than 20 percent of special education costs, putting pressure on local districts to pick up the difference.

Other highlights of the education bill include:

* Increasing federal loan forgiveness from $5,000 to $17,500 for teachers of math, science and special education in low-income schools.

* Making permanent a series of tax-savings programs set to expire by 2010, including plans that encourage savings for college tuition and K-12 expenses.

* Increasing the tax credits teachers can claim for buying school supplies.

Learn more about IDEA reauthorization.

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