Feds to Texas: Stop Pressuring Schools Into Capping Services for Kids with Disabilities

FEDS TO TEXAS: STOP PRESSURING SCHOOLS INTO CAPPING SERVICES FOR KIDS WITH DISABILITIES ISD Map The Department of Education sent out a knock-it-off letter yesterday in response to recently published documentation of a 32% drop in the percentage of Texas students getting special education services — down from 12.1% in 2000 to a seemingly-research-free “goal” of 8.5%. Brian M. Rosenthal reports that the push to reduce the special ed enrollment rate (a policy which was never publically announced) came shortly after the legislature cut the Texas Education Agency’s budget by more than a billion dollars in 2003; the 2004 special ed policy change may have saved the state billions of dollars by withholding federally-mandated accommodations for “children with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, epilepsy, mental illnesses, speech impediments, and blindness and deafness.” Though the agency also couldn’t provide any documentation as to why that target number was picked, educators and district administrators have told Rosenthal that the percentage functions as a de facto cap on how many students can receive services, since failure to come in below the 8.5% benchmark docks a school’s performance rating. Meanwhile, HISD’s own numbers have reportedly gone below and beyond the requirement, diving to 7.4% special ed enrollment versus 19% in New York City. Texas has 30 days to get back to the Department of Education on how it thinks the policy has impacted state school districts, and what it plans to do about it. [Houston Chronicle] Map of Houston-area school districts: TEA School District Locator

4 Comment

  • I guess that money to rename our confederate schools had to come from somewhere.

  • Yeah, so uh, how do these early intervention programs work again?
    “Several said their rates had declined because they had used early intervention programs to reduce the number of disabled kids.”

  • So is this just a classification/label thing? Does a lower number in special ed. labeled students always mean less accommodation? I mean the kid is probably still in the same school with the same teachers. It is kinda of weird, because with most governmental funding schemes you usually get MORE funding for the more disable people you have so I would expect to see false labeling in the other direction. It is interesting to see the different disabilities mixed in. I mean the kids I know I would expect the ADHD alone to be closer to 20%. Although I know some of those parents prefer their kids not to receive any accommodation. All that said, most teachers today are put in impossible positions especially the sp.ed. ones, and only part of that is a funding issue.

  • Wife is a Speech Pathologist in a public school here and she’s having to see an unmanageable caseload due to failure at the district level to hire enough people. Kids are basically just being shoveled through. Unfortunately the “leaders” at the top do nothing, and behind the scenes they’re not supporting them and trying to squeeze them to the point of quitting. It’s all about doing the bare minimum required by law. Here’s a hint parents, if your Speech Pathologist has more than 40 kids on their case load… they’re overworked and you should fight at the district level to get them support. They care about your kids but are in a tough situation where they can’t speak up.