Saturday, February 20, 2010

special education: Sullivan gets it wrong again

As is par for the course for him/her, left brain, right brain blogger Sullivan is writing about special education and gets his/her facts wrong again I have also written about Sullivan's errors and misconstruing the facts on whether or not Ari Ne'eman has said that autism is a disability. Also, he was one of the persons who fabricated the neurodiversity lie that John Best had actually threatened Ari Ne'eman with death. Also his post where he tried to refute Age of autism blogger Jake Crosby and got nearly all of his "facts" wrong. I won't bother to link to these gadfly posts but I am sure the interested reader will be able to find them.

Sullivan starts out by complaining about the Obama administrations promise to provide 40% federal funding of special education spending not being fulfilled. As Sullivan chooses to remain anonymous I don't know whether this person is an American citizen. Assuming they are, they have an appalling ignorance of the most rudimentary knowledge of how our government works. The president does not unilaterally have the power to spend money or to authorize the spending of money, this is done by the U.S. Congress and the Senate. They are the ones who generate the pursestrings.

Sullivan subsequently states that:

The IDEA made a commitment that the U.S. Federal Government would pay 40% of the costs of special education. In reality, the government typically pays about 17%.

This shows how little Sullivan actually understands about the law. There was never a commitment or promise to fully fund IDEA. The law states the federal government would pay a maximum of 40%. Anyone with the least rudimentary math skills will realize that a maximum of 40% funding can equal zero. In other words the federal government is under no legal obligation whatsoever to spend a dime on special education. At the time the education for all handicapped act was passed in 1975 which later was reauthorized to become the individuals with disabilities education act was passed it was only civil rights legislation and was never intended to be a funded mandate.

From Wikipedia:

When originally passed in 1975, congress established a maximum funding level for the program of 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure of American students. This was a rough proxy for the estimated additional cost of educating a student with disabilities. Some have construed this as promise that the federal government would fund that amount spending.

Sullivan is among the persons who have either misconstrued or deliberately lied about the law. In all fairness to Sullivan, this is something that is not unique to him/her, but something that has been done by multitude of persons who promote this law and are oftentimes financial beneficiaries of it, such as teachers, attorneys and ABA therapists. When the IDEA was passed there was no intention to make it anything other than civil rights legislation and not a federally funded mandate.

For those who want to split hairs, it is true the law was reauthorized in 2004 to give congress some leeway to obtain the 40% mark, but there was no actual promise or commitment. The website which I have linked to above puts it well:

Although the new law stops short of guaranteeing that the federal government will pay 40 percent of the costs of special education, it authorizes significant additional spending that, if appropriated, will bring the federal contribution to special education to the 40 percent mark by 2011. Congress opted to address the funding issue through this “glide path” rather than making special education funding an entitlement or mandatory.

So we see in reality that the 40% commitment promise is merely a myth.

There is no evidence at all that high special education spending is helpful to those on the spectrum or ever will be. Particularly salient in this regard is the funding by school districts of Lovaas style ABA in spite of the questionable science behind the study as well as Lovaas' neglect to publish adult outcomes of his subjects in spite of receiving significant federal funding to do so. Sometimes the costs of special education are exorbitant and involve residential schools at costs annually per student in the six figures. Not to mention the costs in attorney's fees to both parties and the aggravation that parents and school districts go through as well as this law encouraging adversarial relationships between parents of disabled children and school districts.

In a previous gadfly post I wrote about approximately one half of special ed students failing the high school exit exam in California as opposed to a more than 90% pass rate among their nonhandicapped peers.

Sullivan is typical of neurodiversity proponents in that he wishes to maintain the status quo in terms of progress for those with developmental disabilities as have Ari Ne'eman and ASAN. They both want to increase funding for a law that has been an abysmal failure rather than encouraging scientific research to come up with better treatments or possibly a cure for autism.

Also in the future when writing blog posts I suggest Sullivan does their homework first.

1 comment:

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