Federal support for preparation of personnel to provide special education and related services to students with disabilities was initiated in 1958, when P.L. 85-926 authorized use of discretionary funds for preparing personnel to provide leadership in mental retardation. From that time forward, the federal government has attempted to play a catalytic role in assisting colleges, universities, states, and local education agencies to develop an infrastructure for personnel development in special education. These efforts have focused on ensuring a sufficient quantity of special education and related services personnel; increasing the quality of personnel preparation; and enhancing the capacity of states and institutions of higher education (IHEs) to prepare personnel for special education and related services (Campeau, Appleby, & Stoddart, 1987).
Using information from the sources cited below, I traced the actual and inflation-adjusted appropriations for personnel preparation from 1970 through 2005. (The 1977 appropriation could not be located.) I used NASA’s inflation calculator to calculate the impact of inflation used in both analyses.
As shown in the accompanying charts, the actual appropriation for personnel preparation increased over the past two-and-a-half decades. However, when adjusted for inflation, the costs of goods and services has increased over time, and the purchasing power of the appropriations has decreased. To compute the inflation-adjusted costs of goods and services for each year, I used 1970 as the index year and entered the actual appropriation for each comparison year into the inflation calculator. Chart 1 shows that, when adjusted for inflation, the increase in costs of goods and services far outpaces the growth in actual appropriations.
Conversely, Chart 2 shows the actual appropriations per year and the decreasing purchasing power of that year’s appropriation (with inflation), in comparison to 1970. To compute the inflation-adjusted purchasing power, each year after 1970 was treated as the index year, and the purchasing power of the appropriation for the index year was compared to the purchasing power of the 1970 appropriation. This analysis simply shows the flip-side of the first one, but either way one considers it, the costs of preparing students for careers in special education has risen faster than the funding of programs to prepare them for those careers.
Source of information regarding appropriations for personnel preparation for the years 1970 – 1974: Burke, P. J., & Saettler, H. (1976). The Division of Personnel Preparation: How funding priorities are established and a personal assessment of the impact of P.L. 94-142. Education and Training of the Mentally Retarded, 11(4), 361-365.
Source of information regarding appropriations for personnel preparation for the years 1974 – 1985: Campeau, P. L., Appleby, J. A., & Stoddart, S. C. (1987). Evaluation of discretionary programs under the Education of the Handicapped Act: Personnel Preparation Program. Final goal evaluation report and technical appendices (Contract No. 300-85-0143). Palo Alto, CA: American Institutes for Research.
Source of information regarding appropriations for personnel preparation for the years 1990-2004: Directories of Grants and Contracts funded by OSEP, National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) and ERIC/OSEP.
Sources for information regarding appropriations for the years 1986-1990: USDE- OSERS, Program Funded Activities.
Source of information regarding appropriations for personnel preparation for the years 2000 through 2004: http://www.ed.gov/programs/osepprep/funding.html
Source of information and Consumer Price Index calculator used to show relative purchasing power and relationship of actual appropriations to appropriations adjusted for inflation for the years 1970 – 2004: http://www1.jsc.nasa.gov/bu2/inflateCPI.html
Jeannie Kleinhammer-Tramill, Ph.D.
Department of Special Education
University of South Florida