is the education of kids with disabilities so
completely and thoroughly screwed
in them there labels
Throat once said, "Follow the money."
is alive and well in special education. We didn't unearth this core
but well-hidden truth until we were yay many weeks into researching
-- and only a week away from publishing -- our special ed issue. (See
how well obscured are the motives or anyone who 'helps' us?)
the money explains a helluva lot. Schools and school districts have
a huge financial incentive to label and segregate our kids. We're surprised
there's not a handicap quota. And maybe there is... we didn't get that
data from the Center for Special Education Finance
the Center for Special Education Finance, has a fine website where
you can download publications tracking dollars in Special Ed, http://csef.air.org.
picked a few stats from from their report, "State Special Education
Finance Systems 1994-1995." [Recent numbers unavailable. See below.]
reported state appropriation per special ed student ranged from a
low of $210 in West Virginia to a high of $5,518 in Alaska. The average
but one of the 42 reporting states used Medicaid
as another source of special ed revenue. Fewer than one quarter of
the states provided estimates of their Medicaid revenue.
highest percentage of Medicaid revenue in relation to a state's overall
special ed expenditures was 16 percent in Louisiana.
a quarter of the states reported using state
mental health funds and/or
insurance for special ed revenue.
use various systems to calculate their payments into Special Education
programs. In "pupil
weighting systems," the report
said, "incentives can be created to misclassify students into specific
types of placements or into categories of disability that receive
(e.g., more restrictive settings that receive higher weights)." Misclassification
of this type is called "overidentification"
and is not yet punishable under criminal law.
most recent large-scale collection of data on state special ed expenditures
was during the 1985-1986 school year. The federal government subsequently
stopped requiring its collection because the data was deemed to be
did not say what Mouth would say to states about that last bit: "Liars,
liars, pants on fires."
places to sit!"
from a special ed budget reviewer in a very small
an anonymous but reputable source
school district's Administration of Special Education each year files
a request for equipment. This form is called "LEA consolidated application
for special education and related services," (take a breath here)
"state equalization aid and Title VI-B." Title VI-B means federal
funds. In ten years our special ed department has requested $240,078
worth of equipment on those forms. Let's see what this equipment has
been used for.
Psychology services $
Student classrooms $
P/T and O/T $
Equipment for the
Administration of special ed
what did this small school administration buy with $177,994?
there are eleven (11) people in Special Ed Admin. All of this equipment
was purchased with federal $$ except one $400 desk.
[Note: The writer
appended a 3-page list, and ended with a quote from
Jesse Ventura, "It is good to be king." Here are a few
items from that list. -- editor]
laser printers, one of them for $3,200; two copiers
totaling $32,100; one speaker phone for $221; three
executive desks for $1,277; three credenzas for
$1,390; one "door hutch" for $450; three bookcases
for $675; three executive chairs for $1,500; two
swivel chairs for $350; one love seat for $250; 13
side chairs $450; two secretary chairs for $373.
[As the writer
notes, "22 places to sit!"]
why the epidemic in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
your hands and moan, 'Money!'
Notes from an interview with Kathy
overpathologize children, to take normal human behavior and label
it... it's primarily an issue where teachers are trying to get that
quiet class, with everyone listening to what the teacher says. Then
there's the kid who wiggles. Or the kid who talks out.
prevalent practice, once kids are labeled, is to pull them out of
regular class into a special setting. Or medicate them.
invested a lot of time and money in those segregated settings. In
order to keep them going, we need to keep labeling kids and placing
them in those programs.
the federal level, every
label is financially equal.
Emotional Disorder is the kiss of death label. Even for kids with
legitimate issues and horrible life experience, once they have that
label, they are likely to be segregated.
is an overused label because the diagnosis is based on subjective
checklists. A school nurse said to me that if you pass that list out
at a party, then half the people in the room are going to have ADHD.
It tracks normal behaviors that we all exhibit."
Kathy Whitbread, Ph.D., is
editor of The Inclusion Notebook. Check their website at http://www.pennycorner.com.
Taylor, of the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University,
said this: "As you know, disability
is big business. There are
financial incentives for schools to label kids. IDEA is a 'categorical
law' -- you have to be categorized, labeled, to get the services,
and for the schools to get the funding. Haven't you noticed the speech
impairment epidemic that's sweeping the country?"
money, state money, special money
For fiscal year 1999, the U.S. Department of Education allocated $690
per special ed child under Part B of IDEA. More than 6 million children
were labeled for special ed services.
States do even
more. In Illinois in 1991
(the best figures we have), state tax dollars provided four times
more income ($426
million) than federal dollars
Local school districts ponied up $43
million that year for special
ed. Note that today Medicaid is a source of funding for special ed.
Medicaid was not a factor in that 1991 study.
During the school year of 1996-1997 (the most recent year where
figures are available) dis-labeled kids were educated as follows:
In a regular
in a resource room 28%
In a separate class
In a separate
facility, publicly operated 2%
In a separate
facility, privately operated 1%
In a public
residential facility .4%
In a private
residential facility .2%
In a home or
The IDEA Full Funding Act of 2000 (House Bill 4055) increases funding
per student by 115 percent. The bill is on a fast track -- introduced
March 20, out of committee April 12. [Will more money help, do
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) will soon release its report,
"Medicaid in Schools: Improper Payments Demand Improvement in HCFA
Oversight." One informant told us, "There is a real windfall for local
education districts -- they can bill Medicaid for all 'related services
that are state-covered services.' HCFA has been clueless about the
degree of ripoff."
for a moment this fact:
People with disabilities have lower incomes
any other minority group. So how is it that so many can make a living
see that question in cartoon form, click here.
Noting that 54
percent of America's public school students with
disabilities are segregated, Mouth's editor opines
that the Supreme Court's Olmstead ruling -- that
states cannot segregate individuals with disabilities
and must provide services "in the most integrated
setting" -- might well apply to a state's provision of
education. Today's IDEA standard is "least restrictive
setting" and seems about a mile narrower and easier to
weasel about than "most integrated."
To get a copy of this
issue, send $5 to Mouth, PO Box 558, Topeka,
Kansas 66601-0558 and specify #59. Or buy it
with your credit card from our online Attitude
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