In the aftermath of last week’s unveiling of the dreadful North Carolina Senate budget proposal, this morning’s “must read” is an op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer by children’s advocate Jason Langberg. In it, Langberg explains why North Carolina’s system of allocating funds to educate children with special needs is already disastrously inadequate — even before this year’s General Assembly gets through with it. Here’s Langberg:
“Students with disabilities may struggle in school for many reasons. For starters, it’s difficult to overcome the adverse educational effects of some disabilities. Other potential causes include the correlation between disability and poverty, rigid testing policies and practices, misallocation of resources, lack of staff training or effectiveness, or failures in service delivery. However, the biggest problem that plagues these students and the hard-working educators who serve them is inadequate and inequitable resources.
The state gives local school districts and charter schools a set amount of money per SWD in the district or school. In 2014-15, that amount was $3,926.97. However, state law also arbitrarily caps per student funding at 12.5 percent of the student population. The cap was established in the early 1980s amid panic after the passage of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as a way to limit expenditures and deter over-identification. Three decades later, it hasn’t changed.
The cap is unacceptably low and effectively penalizes districts with higher percentages of students with disabilities. Read more