In The Politics of Autism, I discuss special education. Some states do a reasonably good job, but Texas has not been one of them.
Texas enrolled its largest number of students in special education programs last school year, the same year the state's education department officially got rid of an arbitrary cap it put in place more than a decade ago.
In the 2016-17 school year, 477,281 students received special education services, an increase of about 14,000 students compared to the previous school year. That's about 8.9 percent of Texas students receiving special education resources, according to the latest data from the state's Public Education Information Management System.
The increase in enrollment, while only a fraction of a percent, is noteworthy given a policy the Texas Education Agency quietly enacted in 2004 that directed school districts to limit special education services to no more than 8.5 percent of students.
A 2016 Houston Chronicle investigation found that tens of thousands of students with disabilities were denied access to services because of the de-facto cap. TEA eliminated the policy in November, two months after the Chronicle revealed the existence of what officials described as the 8.5 percent "benchmark."