Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.
What will happen in another 4 years? How can we go on like this? This is a national (and international) problem of monumental proportions. We have an entire new class of children who cannot be accommodated by the system: many are manifestly neurologically impaired. Meanwhile, the government and the medical profession sleep on regardless. John Stone, UK media editor, Age of Autism
The generation of American children born after 1990 are arguably the sickest generation in the history of our country. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic. They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking at one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years. Toby Rogers, PhD, Political economist
Dec 27, 2018
2 min read
Los Angeles: "Persistent view...children with SPED ...are a drain on District finances"
Dec 23, 2018, Los Angeles Patch: As Strike Looms, LAUSD Special Ed Practices Come Into Focus https://patch.com/california/los-angeles/strike-looms-lausd-special-ed-practices-come-focusWith District leaders openly hostile towards the needs of students in special education classes, can the union extract essential changes?
LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia"When we say $1.4 billion for special ed and we only have $700 million from the federal government and the other $700 million are coming from every child in this district, I'm not about defunding special ed. I just know that we have a serious issue to [sic] how can we serve our own kids?”
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is not always a welcoming place to a person who needs accommodations. According to a report released on October 25, 2017, a child with a physical disability would be unable to enter through the main entrance of one-fifth of the schools within the District. Once inside, they could not access all areas above the first floor in a quarter of all facilities. "Fewer than one-third of schools have accessible restrooms on campus."Even worse is a persistent view within LAUSD leadership that programs needed to help children with special education reach their full potential are a drain on District finances. Board President Monica Garcia complained at one Board meeting that these programs take money from "our own kids, somehow forgetting that she represents students with all types of intellectual abilities, not just those who can graduate and continue on to college. Superintendent Austin Beutner's self-appointed task force looked to save costs by using "tiered interventions early to keep kids with special needs in general education", reinforcing a culture that emphasizes keeping services away from the students until lawyers intervene.
All this concern about cost comes with a price. The District pays for the legal fees every time a parent wins a case and gets the services that their child is entitled to receive. Both children with special education needs and their typical peers are harmed when children are put into general education classrooms without adequate support. While graduation rates within the LAUSD have increased, a recent court filing states that there has been "a decrease in the number of [non-academic track students] receiving Certificates of Completion." Even while trying to achieve cost savings from needed services, Beutner admits that "students with special needs are being left behind at an alarming rate."
Included within United Teachers Los Angeles' (UTLA) demands in the current contract negotiations are measures that would improve these outcomes. These include reducing special education caseload caps, limiting Special Day Classes (SDC) to two consecutive grade levels and creating a mentor program and financial support for special education educators. According to the union, the "LAUSD has proposed reduced caseloads for some special education categories but rejected improved enforcement language and most other UTLA proposals."
The Fact-Finder report delivered this week took the District's tact of reducing children with special education needs to a price tag:
In the meantime, charter schools are allowed to continue their expansion within the district while serving a lower percentage of children with moderate to severe special education needs. Left with a larger caseload, the LAUSD's costs to provide these services as a percentage of the total budget are only going to increase. …