Michigan: Parents claim special needs kids aren't being served; 'an epidemic of failure'

Aug 17, 2017, Petoskey (MI) News-Review: Michigan failing its special needs children, parents and studies say Honor is among a vocal group of Michigan parents who contend the special education population is declining statewide because districts aren’t providing costly services. Not only is the number of students receiving special services in Michigan falling at a rate faster than the national average, but the state’s special education students are performing below national averages, according to an analysis by Bridge Magazine. The state’s special education population has decreased 7.8 percent to 197,000 students from 214,000 in 2011-12, according to the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information. At the same time, local revenues for special education have fallen 22 percent to $132 million from $170 million in 2011. ... Nationwide, the special education population decreased by 2.5 percent to about 6.5 million in 2015 from a high of 6.7 million in 2004, mostly because of a decline in services to children with learning disabilities such as brain injuries and dyslexia. An ‘epidemic’ of failure The decrease in populations coincides with several reports showing that Michigan’s special education students perform worse than those in other states. … Population declines Special education populations are decreasing nationwide largely because of a 20-year decline in the number of students diagnosed with a “specific learning disability” such as difficulty thinking or communicating, but not emotional or mental problems.