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Senate Defeats Education Measure

May 17, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Senate proposal that would have given schools billions of dollars in new money for special education was defeated Thursday. Senators overwhelmingly approved legislation that would forgive college loans for Head Start teachers.

The special education measure, introduced by Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., sought to give enough funding to schools to serve all disabled students within two years, appropriating more than $12 billion next year alone. It was defeated 34-65.

The Senate has already approved giving schools $8.8 billion next year for their cash-strapped special education programs _ $2.5 billion more than this year. Under the terms of the earlier amendment, passed May 4, the federal government would add another $2.5 billion each year until 2007, when funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act would reach just over $21 billion.

President Bush hasn’t supported such a large increase. He requested only $1 billion more for special education in 2002.

The special education law, enacted in 1975, called for Washington to provide 40 percent of funding for disabled youngsters’ education. This year, the federal government provided about 15 percent, or $6.3 billion. States and school districts share a much larger burden, estimated at $50 billion to $60 billion.

Earlier Thursday, the Senate approved giving $5,000 in student loan forgiveness to college graduates who teach for at least five years in federal Head Start preschool programs.

The amendment, offered by Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, was approved 76-24. It would not take effect until 2007.

Both the Senate and House are considering versions of education funding legislation. Lawmakers said they expect to finish debate on both versions by the end of next week.

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