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An examination of the use of federal vocational funds for vocational special needs students in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Merideth K Lemont, Johnson & Wales University


Forty years ago, Congress began to lend the resources of the Federal Government for educating disabled students. Since then special populations has become one of the symbols in our nation of compassion, inclusion and educational opportunities. The primary purpose of this descriptive study is to identify the use of these federal funds for special population programs within regional vocational high schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (N=26), analyze the similarities in which school officials have responded to the new Federal funding provisions, and discuss how existing Federal funded special population programs compare to the 20 components originally developed by Phelps and Wermuth (1992) in their Exemplary Vocational Special Population Programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition to the Phelps and Wermuth study, this study reviews the national and state data from school finance literature provided by some of the nation's foremost scholars in school finance such as Odden & Busch (1998), Brimley & Garfield (2002), Jacobs & Grubb (2002), and Stasz & Bodilly (2004), as well as the financial data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Education (2005), to help isolate component costs of quality vocational education for all students. This study identified several educational emerging issues when investigating finance, quality vocational programs, and budgets from the perspectives of the educational leaders within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Educational issues included the lack of financing of resources necessary to close the inequities in public vocational secondary education, since academic success still eludes thousands of special education students. This study is intended to offer state policymakers data that will help them to formulate more informed decisions about the vocational educational funding in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The investigative findings of the stratified sampling from 26 regional vocational high schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (N=26) used for this study, communicates the rationale for the different funding strategies and the level of support from the perspective of three different target groups (academic teachers, vocational instructors, and school administrators) that are affected by federal regulations and the funds purported to assist special population students enrolled in vocational secondary schools throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was concluded, based on the findings in this research and current educational literature that many of the inequity and adequacy educational issues have not changed dramatically over the past few years. The debate continues over the distribution of Federal funds for special education programs. The new Federal funding provisions for special populations are at times confusing, contradictory to state regulations, and have placed additional stress on the now limited budgets of the existing regional vocational secondary schools within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Subject Area

School finance|Vocational education|Special education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Lemont, Merideth K, "An examination of the use of federal vocational funds for vocational special needs students in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" (2005). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3234955.