Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Can we still afford special education

 Can we still afford special education?


As more children qualify for special education, more school systems are deciding the provision of special education is a hill too high to climb.

In the 22-23 school year a record 7.5 million students accessed special education services in the United States.

Several factors are playing into the increase.  The pandemic left many kids at home with parents.  Sometimes the parents were doing school lessons and were discovering that the issues in learning their kids had were very real; they weren't all the teacher's or school's fault.   Secondly, the stigma for some disabilities is going down.   Autism spectrum disabilities are on the rise as are people on the spectrum being shown as very smart and maybe just a bit quirky so what’s so bad about that. 

Schools don’t have the money to provide the services and when they do, they can’t find the teachers.   Three in five special ed teachers leave in the first five years.   Then there is the issue of all those wonderful federal pandemic funds that are going away.

In Maryland the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is pumping lots of new state money into local school systems.  But that is not a free lunch.  The new money may only be spent in specific areas for the purposes of legislation.   And money begets money so, the local jurisdictions are required to increase their spending in those areas beyond the Maintenance of Effort amounts already established.

There is only so much money to go around.  Somethings are happening in Maryland that have seldom happened before.  Teachers are being laid off.  From the smaller systems such as Cecil County to the largest one, Montgomery county.  Programs are being cut; positions are eliminated in the Baltimore metro area as well.  All of this means involuntary teacher transfers  if teachers want to keep their jobs.  

Money being pumped into school systems is being allocated on a per pupil basis and that money goes to the schools where the kids are.  The money is not for general overhead to run the district.

Special education is more expensive than general ed.  Now that there is less money all around, the hard question of can we still afford special education has left the whisper stage and is being asked out loud.

No comments:

Post a Comment