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Friday, June 26, 2020

Biden and Education for People with Disabilities

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.

At EdSource, Carolyn Jones writes about Joe Biden's support for full funding of the Americans with Disabilities Education Act:
“It’s hugely significant,” said Carolynne Bottum, a lecturer at the UC Davis School of Education and a former director of the Special Education Local Area Plan for Yolo County. “This wouldn’t just benefit students with disabilities, it would benefit all children.”
... In 2018-19, federal funding only covered 8.4% of special education costs in California, leaving the state and local districts to cover the rest. That’s left many districts in a bind, as special education costs rise — due to an increase in students with autism and severe disabilities — and revenues fall due to declining enrollment.
About 800,000 students in California were enrolled in special education in 2018-19, a number that’s been increasing even as the state’s overall enrollment has held steady. The increase is due partly to the rise in diagnoses of autism, which affected 1 in 50 students in 2017-18 but only 1 in 600 in 1997-98, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
Students with autism often need speech and behavioral therapy and one-on-one aides in the classroom, making them especially expensive to educate. Other high costs for districts include private school placement for students with unique needs, and litigation, as parents file complaints to improve services for their children, Bottum said.
Biden’s proposal is part of a broad platform addressing the rights of people with disabilities. In addition to funding special education, Biden is calling for other benefits for students with disabilities, including:
  • A tripling of Title I school funding for low-income students, as proposed in his education platform.
  • Special education teacher recruitment and training.
  • Expanded programs for young children with disabilities, which experts say can greatly improve outcomes for disabled students over the long term.
  • Discipline reform, including a ban on seclusion and more restrictions on the use of restraint.
  • Anti-bullying measures.
  • Job training.
  • Funding for colleges to accommodate students with disabilities.