Texas Saved Billions Cutting Special Education. Now the Bill Comes Due

Aug 25, 2018 by

The U.S. ordered the state to remove a cap that wrongly deprived hundreds of thousands of kids. Now the question is who will pay.

By John O’Neil –

Texas’s 5.4 million students are returning to school amid the usual scramble for textbooks, lockers and desks. The state is also facing a huge problem of its own creation: how to find, evaluate and properly teach as many as 200,000 students wrongly denied special education or overlooked as it sought to limit spending for the nation’s fastest-growing school population.

And then there’s the question of how Texas, under orders from the U.S. government, will pay for it all.

The federal mandate, intended to make up for a de facto cap put in place by the Texas Education Agency in 2004, may amount to the biggest single expansion of special education services ever. For more than a decade, local school districts were pressured to turn away students in need. Now that must be undone.

The federal order is both an opportunity to improve the life prospects of young people with disabilities and a challenge to the low-tax, high-growth, small-government model Texas has pursued while under Republican control. The state and local districts now confront spending increases projected to reach more than $1.5 billion a year.

Nationwide, schools are struggling to provide special education services in the face of tight budgets, heightened legal scrutiny and shortages of qualified teachers, psychologists and therapists. Texas needs all of those experts to climb out of its hole, plus the help of parents whose trust in their schools has been deeply eroded.

Source: Texas Saved Billions Cutting Special Education. Now the Bill Comes Due – Bloomberg

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