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ERIC Number: EJ969949
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jan
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1537-5749
Seeking Savings in Special Ed
Schachter, Ron
District Administration, v48 n1 p35-36, 53-55 Jan 2012
An old saying goes, "When an irresistible force meets an immovable object, something has to give." That adage is taking on new urgency for school districts as they grapple with the burgeoning costs of their special education programs. The immovable object is the hard and fast rules of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. IDEA, last reauthorized in 2004, requires that qualifying students receive diagnostic testing, individual education plans (IEPs), and a potentially unlimited range of school-based special education services for as long as needed--from aides in the classroom to an array of physical, occupational, and speech and language therapies. The irresistible force takes the form of the ever-increasing numbers of special education students and the growing proportion of district budgets devoted to providing them with services. There's exponential growth in the diagnosis of autism, and some of the students on the autism spectrum require a costly level of intervention that doesn't seem to be attracting attention from the U.S. Department of Education or state legislatures. School district administrators are left to carry the burden. At the same time, schools are absorbing a generation of students who were born prematurely. Whereas only 1 in 10 would have survived just a few decades ago, the rate has surged--thanks to medical advances--to 9 out of 10 today. What's a district to do? One recent answer has been to outsource a growing number of special education services in what could be considered the final frontier of an accelerating cost-savings movement that has seen districts place transportation, cafeteria and janitorial services in the hands of outside providers. While the outsourcing of entire special education programs is a new feature of the cost-stressed landscape of public schools, districts have for years outsourced "low-incidence" special education services for students with particularly severe physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities. These disabilities can range from autism and traumatic brain injury to significant visual, auditory or orthopedic impairments. Sometimes those students attend special facilities outside of the district. At other times, their needs are met more economically by providing intensive occupational, speech and language, and physical therapy through local educational collaboratives that include--depending upon the state--educational service agencies, county offices of education, and boards of educational cooperative services.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act