There are things happening in this country that do not add up. There are heated debates that our educational system needs to be reformed. Why? The education system is doing a bad job and is locked into old ideas of how to educate children. That is why the United States ranks significantly lower than comparable countries. For instance in math Finland is first, South Korea is second, and the United States is at an embarrassing 25th. In science Finland is number one, and the United States if 21st. Is there anything we do that ranks us higher than Finland? Yes, it is the cost of education per child. In the United States the cost for one child is $129,000 from K through 12. The other countries average $95,000. (Information provided: Other Nations Outclass U.S. on Education )
We are obviously not doing a good job, but there is a perspective that no one is talking about. Keep in mind the statistics I quoted are in regard to children who are a part of mainstream education. I ask, what does this picture look like when it comes to Special Education. In my research, I could not find any specific articles that compared Special Education in the United States versus other countries. In fact I could not find any articles that even talked about the quality of special education in the United States.
One good thing that recently occurred is the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which is an international human rights instrument of the United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. It was ratified March, 2011 with 147 signatories and 99 parties. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities instills a right to education.
The Convention states that persons with disabilities should be guaranteed the right to inclusive education at all levels, regardless of age, without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity.
State Parties should ensure that:
- children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education;
- adults with disabilities have access to general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning;
- persons with disabilities receive the necessary support, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education; and
- effective individualized support measures are put in place to maximize academic and social development.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also supports protecting the integrity of the person. Article 17 of the Convention states that every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others. (Information provided by: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)
In the United States, as of 2006, almost 5 million students received special education. The 5 million students were divided into the following categories:
|Learning disability (LD)
|Speech or language impairment (SI)
|Other health impairment (OHI)
|Mental retardation (MR) (now known as Intellectually Disabled)
|Emotional disturbance (ED)
|Hearing impairment (HI)
|Orthopedic impairment (OI)
|Visual impairment (VI)
|Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
|Deaf & blindness
If the United States is not doing a very good job with mainstream education, what do you think is happening in Special Education? From personal experience, I can tell you that it is in even more trouble. This country is truly talking the talk, but is not walking the walk. These children are being navigated through our educational system with no real measurement of success or progress in educating children with disabilities. Sometimes I feel that the goal in school is to lead these children through twelve years and the schools’ efforts are concentrated on the navigation aspect rather than the educational progress.
Keep in mind that this is 5 million children. That is almost the same population of the entire state of Wisconsin, or Minnesota, or Maryland. All but one city in the U.S. (New York) has smaller populations than the 5 million children in special education. There are fewer people in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and Denver than there are children in special education. It seems to me that these children represent a large population in this country. Are we supporting these children? If we were, then why am I seeing the following headlines. I also ask if our federal laws require districts to maintain the same level of special education spending from year to year, then why am I seeing blatant news headlines about cuts in programs for Special Education. Something is seriously wrong. It isn’t right, and this country needs to stop ignoring it.
I encourage everyone in this country to scream in outrage and insist that this country invests in our children who are the future of this country. Even more important, the education of all children, including the 5 million children in Special Education, have a right to a better education. We are talking about the United State, which is one of the greatest countries in the world. Don’t we want our children, all children, to be the best and the brightest? Don’t we want to give all children the tools they will need to lead this country into the future? I don’t think anyone can deny it needs to be a priority. I ask everyone, please don’t be complacent about this topic. Get emotional. Get inspired. Care. Participate and take pride in the accomplishment. Our children deserve it.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
The Hudson Board of Education approved staff cuts for the coming school year at a special meeting Tuesday night. These positions include education assistants in math, reading, school libraries and special education made up of education assistants.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
Based on the proposed Wisconsin biennial budget, the Hudson School District could be facing a budget deficit of around $3.4 million dollars in the coming school year.
The reduction of educational assistants in special education, English as a second language, math and reading and media assistants; Elimination of the vision-impaired teacher services to be replaced through CESA 11;
Non-personnel reductions recommended included:
- $165,000 from the elimination of special education out of district student placements.
- $45,000 from reducing the purchase of textbooks, smart boards and other technology and materials.
Special education requirement could derail budget plans
Federal rules require districts to maintain the same level of special education spending from year to year.
ORFORDVILLE — School districts cutting employee wages and benefits fear they’ll be forced to buy things or hire people they don’t need to meet federal minimum-spending requirements, two area superintendents said.
Federal rules require districts to maintain the same level of special education spending from year to year. But in districts such as Parkview, all teachers—including special education teachers—are taking a pay cut next year and are beginning to contribute to their retirement and health insurance.
The result is less money going into special education, which could put the district in violation of the federal requirement.
If a district spent $100,000 on special education this year, for example, and salary and benefit cuts reduce the expense to $70,000 next year, the district would have to find a way to make up the $30,000 drop to keep spending $100,000 on special education, Zellmer said.
The penalty for not meeting the requirement is to pay the amount of the spending reduction to the government,
This requirement states that states must ensure that current year funding for special education is not less than 90 percent of the funding level provided two fiscal years earlier.
Q: How much IDEA money will be provided by the stimulus? A: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will get a $11.3 billion boost in funding over the next two years for students aged 6-21. This funding is in addition to the annual appropriation of $11.5 billion. For Wisconsin districts, the ARRA will mean an additional $208.4 million in IDEA funding. Half of the IDEA stimulus allocation and half of the Title I stimulus allocation was released in early April with relatively few strings attached other than the rules and regulations that normally accompany these programs. However, the U.S. Education Department is asking states to submit much more detailed information on how the plan to improve student learning before they can access their second round of funding, which is scheduled to be released in the fall. States must explain how they will comply with transparency and accounting requirements, including:
- improving teacher effectiveness and quality;
- establishing longitudinal data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;
- enhancing the quality of academic standards and assessments; and
- providing targeted, intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest performing schools.
Special Note: This article is in no way critisizing those teachers that have made it their life career to teaching children with special needs. Their dedication to our children is valiant. Unfortunately the educational system itself is not supporting them enough.