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jca's avatar

Do public schools try to classify children "Special Ed" and make it hard to mainstream them, in order to maintain funding?

Asked by jca (29274 points ) June 4th, 2010

My daughter just turned 3 and i feel she does not speak as well as she should. I am getting her an audio eval, privately paying through my health insurance, just to rule out hearing loss. I know if i get her speech eval they will want to do that anyway. I have contacted the Committee on Preschool Special Education in my district in order to start the process of getting her a speech eval and speech therapy if she does in fact need it.

I got her a speech eval one year ago, when she was 2. The results were that she is at or above her age level in everything, and she was very smart. The evaluator gave me some tips to get her to talk more. I used the tips and she did make big improvements. She still does not speak as well as others her age, which may or may not be due to us “giving” her the words and not making her say full sentences. I am also aware that children all develope at different rates, and in all ways she is a very intelligent, observant girl.

Regardless, someone at work told me the school districts like to classify children “Special Ed” in order to get more funding from the federal government and in order to hire more Special Ed teachers. She told me once they classify children “Special Ed” it’s hard to unclassify them.

I am having a vision of my child being labelled “Special Ed” and ending up in remedial classes, and being pushed into a classification just to benefit the school. If she needs it, then of course she should have it, she should have whatever she needs, and there is no shame in it. However, I know the school districts do like to get funding through whatever means they can, especially now that budgets are tight.

Have you heard stories about school districts doing this? Do you know anything about this process and this issue?

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29 Answers

Val123's avatar

While it’s true that the more “special students” the schools have, the more funding they have. It sucks, just because the schools tend to pin point “problems” where there are none, or not any that the child won’t eventually out grow.

However, a LOT of three-year-olds haven’t mastered speech 100%, and I really wouldn’t worry about it or focus on it, if only so that your daughter won’t become worried or self consious about it. That would only make things worse.

Now, if they DO label her as special, which they probably will, it really doesn’t mean much. They may put her in another class room with a special ed teacher classroom for 30 minutes during the day for speech, if necessary, but that’s all. Most of the kids in any elementary school go to different rooms during the day for various reasons, be it help with reading, math, whatever.

I just wouldn’t worry about it at all. And above all, no. She won’t wind up in a Special Ed classroom if that’s what you’re thinking! They’re be no stigma attached to it either.

SuperMouse's avatar

My son has a speech problem and I recently had his first IEP meeting. They wrote him an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), that lasts for one year, in order to have him receive services beyond that, he will have to be re-certified and get either a new IEP or update the old one. He is by no means stuck as a special ed student for the rest of his time in school.

I am currently finishing up a degree in education with an endorsement in special ed. In all the classes I have taken, I have never heard a single word about schools having any kind of incentive, financial or otherwise, to diagnose students as special ed. The new ideas of Least Restrictive Environment and Response to Intervention should help curve over diagnosis even more, as well as help find the students @Val123 points out that might slip through the cracks.

I would absolutely recommend availing yourself of all the services your school district has to offer.

Val123's avatar

@SuperMouse I need to look into that. I may be wrong about getting funding for special kids. However, I do know that the more lower income kids a school has, the more funding they get…..

gemiwing's avatar

I have a special ed teacher in my immediate family. Honestly- right now they are cutting her hours, cutting her funding and increasing standardized testing regulations. There is no more help from the government at this point.

Teachers also aren’t in this profession for the money so the idea that they would behave like a money-hungry CEO doesn’t hold much weight for me either. Teachers know what happens when a child is put into a special education track and they don’t use it lightly.

Yes, they get more federal money for special needs children- yet it’s not used to pad pockets of Principals (legally) or to hold a cute homecoming dance for the 5th graders.

They get more money from the government to help pay for the education of special needs children. They need lower student to teacher ratios, expensive special equipment (such as desks, weighted pens, flashcards, computer programs with auxiliary user interfaces like eye-readers and flipboards for communication), oftentimes they need extra physical adaptations to the room as well- a ‘squeeze tube’ for instance.

It varies for each school and district- yet usually special education is for developmental delays that deal with comprehension and social integration from a medical standpoint. There are tons of children who simply go to speech therapy once a week and never see the inside of a special ed/STAR room. LRE’s cost money and most schools do not throw a child into them on a whim.

Your friend- while I’m sure cares for your situation, sounds like they are misinformed and repeating scare tactics they have heard.

ETA- Sorry if that seemed a bit overly-emotional for a response. This financial crisis has hit our family hard and to be honest that’s been tough for us.

Also- I don’t know how schools work in other states but here there are four levels available- regular classroom, regular classroom+ one-on-one therapy (speech mostly), resource (mildly delayed) and LRE (‘major’ delay).

tinyfaery's avatar

My wife is a special ed teacher. She has said that kids are sometimes too easily classified as needing special ed when the issues could easily be dealt with in a regular ed classroom, with a little specialized help.

The LAUSD (local school district) has what they call resource teachers. These teachers are special ed teachers that work in a regular ed classroom along with the teacher. The resource teacher can use specialized tools to aid the children that need it.

The funding that schools get by no means give the schools what they need. Special ed programs are drastically being cut. My wife has to change schools this year because her position was cut at the school she currently works at.

There are kids that need special ed. All people have the right to an education.

gemiwing's avatar

@tinyfaery I feel for your wife. My family member is going through the same thing. The funding just isn’t there anymore and she’s having to look at another state for work

Val123's avatar

Yeah…..two weeks after I finally landed my teaching job, I thought my position was going to be cut at the end of this school year! Scary! But, looks like I’m ok for at least the next year. It is an awful time for education.

tinyfaery's avatar

@gemiwing She is really upset about it. She really likes her current school and they are trying to keep her. At least she can go to another school.

Val123's avatar

Guys…the mods coming with her baseball bat! Before we get in trouble, go here!... http://www.fluther.com/86605/are-we-the-only-country-in-the-world-that-puts-education/

jazmina88's avatar

My niece teaches special ed, and i taught music. If your school tries to give YOUR child an extra advantage or help in learning and social skills, why not use the resources>

Val123's avatar

@jazmina88 I think she was afraid her child would get stuck in a class room of lower functioning kids all day.

6rant6's avatar

At least in California, schools generally avoid having kids dubbed Special-ed.

The district has to come up with the resources to give those kids special attention – and so the district is out money. So schools that have more than their “fair share” of special-ed kids appear to be resource hogs. And those that have few special needs kids have more to spend on other things.

I know also that both Federal and state tendencies are for the expectations that come with any funding for anything seldom equal the costs of providing them. It’s how our governments have solved funding shortfalls – “We can’t figure out how to do this good thing with the available money, so it’s now your job.”

Talk to parents who were undecided whether to get their kids into special needs classes. I think you’ll find that the administrators stalled, stonewalled and discouraged any reclassification. I know that in at least one local district, teacher are forbidden to suggest that a child be tested for special classification. And even letting the parents know that is a possibility risks getting fired.

tinyfaery's avatar

That’s against the law. Parents can easily sue the school and the district.

JLeslie's avatar

A friend of mine has some special designation for one of her sons, but he is in regular on level classes. He just gets extra time to complete certain assignments I think. His father wanted to have his label removed, but his mom insisted on keeping it, because it gave her powr with the teachers when she saw the need to help her son. She in no way is the type of mother to coddle her children, so she is not one to abuse this advantage, he does struggle with some things.

My sister, way back 30 years ago, had a speech impedement, and they used to take her out of class for it a couple of times a week. By 3rd grade she was fine. She wan’t in a separate class.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, the school cannot label a child for Special Ed with the doctor’s OK. If you are concerned, ask the doctor not to do it. An IEP will solve your dilemma, or you can simply enroll the child in a non-school program.

My husband had a severe stuttering problem, and his doctor sent him to a speech therapist for a couple of sessions a week, for about a year. He never stuttered again.

6rant6's avatar

@tinyfaery
In the district I have knowledge of, parents have sued when the school district dragged feet about obtaining diagnosis and providing resources, the school went to arbitration – lost – and paid off. That may be one of the reasons they don’t want teachers “Tipping off” the parents. It may be cheaper to loose the occasional suit than to provide the additional resources for everyone who qualifies for it.

Let’s face it; schools are operating with less money than it takes to educate our kids. That they take short cuts and create victims – no surprise.

jca's avatar

@6rant6 : remember the funding for Special Ed is from the Feds – it’s a whole separate funding source. The regular budget is like a pie – take from one area to give to another. For Special Ed, the sky’s the limit. The kids need adaptive devices, they get it. they need special teachers, or additional staff, more therapists, they get them. they need special resources like certain books, they get them. So it’s to a school’s advantage to have more Special Ed kids in order to get more funding.

tinyfaery's avatar

Haha. What makes you think that special ed programs get all that? Because the law says so?

kluge's avatar

They do try to fill a quota to recieve extra funding in the case of “Enriched Learning” programs for supposably gifted children.
and that label sticks thru all secondary school.

YARNLADY's avatar

@kluge Could you please expand on that? I wonder where you got that information.

kluge's avatar

@YARNLADY In my personal case I just barely made the cut into my provinces enriched learning program, which meant primarily that the school I attended would recieve around $500 per year in addition to the regular funding provided for each student until I graduated.

ItsAHabit's avatar

The parents of some special needs students receive financial support from the state. Not surprisingly, some parents resist their children being re-categorized when no longer appropriate. For example, children in speech therapy almost always improve their speech and no longer need need such special help at some point. However, parents will often object and insist that their children remain in speech therapy so they (the parents) can continue receiving money from taxpayers.

jca's avatar

@ItsAHabit: I believe the children you’re talking about may be kids that receive Social Security Disability. I don’t know if just having speech therapy will make someone eligible for SSD. I am not aware of any other “taxpayer money” that someone would be eligible for.

jeffmbca's avatar

Funding is tight everywhere right now and the schools aren’t getting extra funding for resource kids. Many schools don’t want to have to deal with kids with learning disabilities because it actually costs them money and resources they don’t have. They also try to “mainstream” them out of IEPs as soon as possible.

Remember, there is no correlation between intelligence and learning disabilities. Highly intelligent children can have a learning disability and struggle with school. If a child is found to need help through an assessment, the next step will be an IEP. If you can get it, take it. If you don’t need it at some point they will mainstream your child out.

Easy IEP Help is for parents with questions about the IEP Process. There are tools and resources that can help answer questions.

If you feel you don’t want your child to have an IEP or think they are too intelligent (don’t we all – ha ha), see if you can find a copy of Richard Lavoie’s video, “How Difficult Can This Be.” You’ll not only change your mind but you’ll fight to have an assessment and get services for your child.
http://www.easyiephelp.com/easy-iep-help/understanding-learning-disabilities/

ItsAHabit's avatar

jca- I don’t know the source of the funding, but the speech teacher told me that the phenomenon I described occurs all the time. Unfortunately, it’s bad for both the students and the taxpayers. It’s only good for the parents.

kruger_d's avatar

Talk to your district’s social worker about your concerns. They understand the IEP process and often serve on the teams for as an advocate for foster children. They would have a good read on the services in your district. They also understand confidentiality and you could ask blunt questions without risk of offending a special ed teachers who may work with your daughter.

ItsAHabit's avatar

kruger d Thanks for the good idea. :)

cmd's avatar

Speech-language therapy is called special ed. because it is a special education service and is considered a right provided by the same federal laws that assure that all students receive a free and appropriate education regardless of disability/need. Children with speech issues are not put in remedial classes. These days even kids with pretty pervasive disabilities are kept in general education classes given the support of special educators and accomodations with as little time out of general ed as possible. But back to speech. It is your right as a parent to be a part of the team that makes decisions and you have the right to pull your child out of services at any time. You would have to request a meeting. You also have the right to review your child’s records/files and to request that information that you think is incorrect or misleading be removed. There is no stigma in this day and age to a couple years of speech. Also, most other kids don’t even look twice at kids going for speech, kids at school are going here and there to all sorts of groupings. They are however more likely to look to harshly upon a child with delayed speech as kids get older as we all know they can become a little brutal. Also there all sorts of level of speech service to consider. I am pretty safe though in saying that most sp paths are not seeking to add to their heavy case loads, they just love to help kids. The funding that comes from the feds does not in any way come close to the cost per child serviced.

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