Report: PA Special Education Funding Leaves Students Behind
Thursday, June 2, 2022
As the number of Pennsylvania students with disabilities rises, a new report says the share of state education funding has declined. Education advocates say state lawmakers can use this year's budget surplus to support the students.
In 2008, Pennsylvania contributed close to one-third of the total cost of special education, but by 2020 that amount dropped to 22%.
And meanwhile, costs have gone up for every school district, according to Sharon Ward - senior policy advisor with the Education Law Center, which published the report.
She said this hurts students in lower-wealth districts most and can lead to them missing out on services such as individualized education programs.
"What we hear from parents is that there are delays in the development of IEPs," said Ward. "If you can get to kids in the early grades and help them address a lot of their learning needs, it means they're going to have a more successful student career."
There were an estimated 308,000 students receiving special education services in the 2019-20 school year, up 14% from the 2008-09 school year.
The report adds that a lack of adequate special-education funding denies students access to individualized support, assistive technology and other interventions.
The report also includes policy recommendations for state lawmakers and education officials, such as adding $200 million in special education funding for the 2022-23 school year.
Ward added they'd like to see the state close the charter-school loophole, where districts must provide charter schools a fixed amount of funding per student regardless of disability.
"We'd like the charter schools to be held to the same cost-based system as district schools," said Ward. "Frankly, school districts are sending money to charter schools to serve students with disabilities and they're not; they're using those dollars for other purposes."
The Education Law Center, Public Interest Law Center and O'Melveny law firm were recently in the courtroom presenting their case that the way schools are funded in the state violates the education clause and equal-protection provisions of the state Constitution.
It awaits a decision by a Commonwealth Court judge.
get more stories like this via email
Groups fighting for Palestinian rights are praising a new fact sheet on religious discrimination from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for …
Lawmakers and immigrants-rights activists in the Commonwealth are hoping to pass the Language Access and Inclusion Act, which would dramatically …
New U.S. Department of Agriculture rules will target fraud and increase oversight of the $64 billion-a-year organic food industry. In Iowa, the …
By Jennifer Weiss-Wolf for Ms. Magazine.Broadcast version by Eric Galatas for Colorado News Connection reporting for the Ms. Magazine-Public News …
Health and Wellness
With Black History Month underway, Wisconsin researchers and support groups are highlighting the disparities in cases of Alzheimer's disease…
North Dakota's plan to boost animal agriculture has reignited a thorny issue: loosening restrictions on corporate ownership of farms. The state said …
Oregon is pursuing an aggressive climate plan to switch to renewable energy sources, but it faces one often overlooked issue: enough high-voltage …
A measure in the Washington State Legislature would provide free school meals to K-12 students, but nutrition service workers are worried they are …