(Educating severely disabled students)

I found this story interesting on many levels. How do we best educate these students? What programs and approaches work? No research was cited for the various approaches used at the one New York City school. It’s certainly challenging.

But I also found the numbers revealing….
The numbers of students with severe disabilities is, nationwide, estimated at
123,000. The numbers of students with disabilities is estimated at 6.5 million. Fewer than 2% are severely multihandicapped.

The costs are interesting also–an estimated $74 billion is spent nationally for special education (does that include the regular ed services that these students receive? It is NOT clear).

And,if I did the numbers right, at an estimated $60,000 per severely disabled student, the costs for this group of students are close to $8 billion–around 10% of the total.

So, in reforming special ed, I believe that we are back on focusing on the vast numbers of students who do NOT have severe disabilities. That is where both the numbers of students and dollars and programs are.

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line, DianeRavitch.net, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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