Special ed and charters

Charter schools are providing a quality education to special education students, concludes a Reason Foundation report (pdf) by Education Weak’s Lisa Snell. Even better, “Charter schools are reducing the number of students labeled ‘special education’ through early intervention programs designed to keep students performing at grade level.”

Most special ed students are supposed to be “learning disabled.” In many cases, that means the student is significantly behind in reading but isn’t mentally retarded. Schools that do a good job of teaching reading can reduce the number of children with learning disability labels.

About Joanne


  1. Check http://www.nces.ed.gov to access information about each school district, including the number of IEP students and costs. Our district (non-urban) has 24 percent of the student population labeled as IEP students. (I have been told that this is not unusual!?!) I have also been told by someone in our state education administration that labeling (qualifying) a student as IEP is the only way to get money to deal with any kind of learning issue, even if it is temporary.

    I think it is quite difficult to talk about learning disabled or IEP students as a group. You have to break it down into different categories, such as those who need temporary assistance versus those who need long term help. Then there is the problem of separate education versus mainstreaming versus the use of full inclusion. My concern is that large numbers of IEP students are used to justify lower and less definite grade-by-grade expectations. Many IEP parents that I have talked to, however, have much higher expectations. This is a kind of PC area where it is difficult to raise questions about fundamental assumptions. I also see about 25 percent of our K-8 students going to private schools because parents have higher expectations.

  2. Jack Bush says:

    “Education Weak”? Surely not.

  3. aschoolyardblogger says:

    We had a set of parents in our district, highly educated, that made a career of working the welfare system. These people went out of their way to have all nine of their children identified as disabled. With an IEP in hand they received more financial assistance than without one. If you look at the Child with Disabilities Act the definition of a disability is quite generous – so generous I think we could all qualify. When the act first came out it was an attempt to include all children in the regular classroom and find techniques to teach them. I don’t believe the latitude in identifying a disability was intended to be as broad as it has become. It has turned into a reason for a huge special education staff and lots of excuses. The child with cerebral palsy benefits from the law. The child who says to the teacher “oh I can’t be asked to read that many pages, my IEP says so” hasn’t. In my experience about 95% of the special education students merely needed interesting stuff to work on and somebody to tell them they were going to be expected to work on it.

  4. IEP stands for Individual Education Plan. Nationwide about 11 percent of students are in special education and therefore have an IEP.

    SSI, which provides income to the disabled, covers disabled children, even though they wouldn’t be earning money if they weren’t disabled. The parents of disabled kids can get SSI money to be spend as they see fit. Allegedly, some parents try to get their kids classified as disabled for this reason, though I doubt this is common.

  5. The article said the longer the students remain in special education the larger the achievement gap becomes between disabled and non-disabled students. Studies done, said the students received less instruction in reading. The public schools receive extra money for special education students. Why is this happening?

    According to the SS website, SSI benefits for disabled children under age 18, is based on the parents income and resources.

  6. “Learning disabled” and “special ed” are giant forests of vage meaning.

    Don’t forget the push that SAT (College Boards) put on getting and maintaining an IEP.

    If you have a kid with an above-average IQ and one or more processing problems (say dyslexia and ADD), even if the kid is functioning OK in school, it is in the kid’s best interest to maintain the IEP and take advantage of accomodations during the school year in order to maintain said accomodations during the SAT and AP testing process.

    How do I know this? My daughter is maintaining a B+ average at a competitive independent school in the Silicon Valley….and is dyslexic.

    Does she otherwise need accommodations? I’m not saying–to concede that she may not for normal classroom tests might risk that she’d be denied necessary accomodations later.

    Do I think this is a good system? No. Is my daughter the only one at her school? No. Does it give her an advantage that a child with the same level of disability, but from a less wealthy or less clued-in family may not have? Oh, absolutely. How do I feel about that? Not great. But am I going to move to give up my daughter’s accomodations? No.

    (Here’s more info:

    http://www.headroyce.org/~mscarlata/ breaking%20the%20code%20020704.doc)