Skip to main content

The time is now to reform Pennsylvania's special education funding

06/25/2014 10:29AM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print, Opinion



Letter to the Editor:

Based on broad, bipartisan support, the Pennsylvania General Assembly has introduced companion special education funding reform bills HB 2138 and SB 1316. These companion bills represent a huge first step toward fixing Pennsylvania’s flawed special education system – which does not provide enough resources for special education in the right places.

Here is a quick background on special education funding reform. The way the funding structure is now, there's a set dollar amount per child and the state funds each school at 16 percent assuming that every district has 16 percent of its students with IEPs. The 16 percent number is the figure the state uses even though many schools are at 20 percent to 25 percent or more—and diagnoses are skyrocketing.

The new funding structure currently being considered will change two things. One is that each district will be funded on the actual number of kids with IEPs per school district. The second thing that it does is that each child will be in a Tier-1, 2, or 3. Tier 1 is a child with low needs and three is high needs and requiring more services. There are measures in place to keep districts from over-identifying. But the bottom line is, each district could soon be funded based on the actual number of students with disabilities it has and on each child’s needs.

This tiered approach was recommended by the General Assembly’s Special Education Funding Commission in its report released late last year. The bipartisan Commission spent months traveling the state to learn from all interested stakeholders about special education costs, services, and best practices.  Based on that extensive research, Commission members made recommendations, which are contained in both bills, for fixing Pennsylvania’s broken system of special education funding.

As a parent and an advocate for children with disabilities, I’ve seen the impact of the current flawed system. Fundamental needs that often go under-served include adequate staffing and professional development; assistive technology devices; and other student supports and services. In many cases, schools do not effectively include and educate eligible students with disabilities in regular classrooms with supports. Pennsylvania ranks among the states offering the least inclusion, despite legal mandates for considering this process and despite proven benefits in school and after graduation for students with disabilities, with some exceptions, and their peers.

Funding and accountability reforms are needed for increasing the amount and quality of appropriate inclusion in public schools. That’s true of all public schools — both charter and district-run.

Historically, charter schools have not equitably served students with disabilities compared to their authorizing school districts. In every heavily charterized school district, such as the Chester-Upland School District and the School District of Philadelphia, the neighborhood public schools are serving a greater portion of students with more severe disabilities than their charter school counterparts.

At the same time, charters are receiving payments for students with disabilities that are not connected to costs. So a charter school in Chester is receiving $35,000 for a student with mild disability who may only cost $17,000 to appropriately educate. That same charter may serve a students with a more severe disability who requires $50,000 in services - yet they only receive $35,000.

The new system proposed in these two bills corrects that inefficiency for both charters and district-run schools by utilizing the three-tiered system, which better aligns resources to costs. For the district-run schools the three-tiered approach is applied only to any new state dollars added to the special education line item starting this year. For charters, the three-tiered approach would phase in over several years. It’s a sound solution to fixing the flawed special education funding system, and our legislators deserve credit for working to address this problem.


It’s discouraging, therefore, to hear leaders of the charter school advocacy community dismiss this legislation. Special education funding is a complex issue that not only impacts Pennsylvania’s 270,000 students with disabilities but the quality of services available for students without special needs. Overall, HB 2138 and SB 1316 provide, for the first time, an efficient and equitable formula for distributing special education dollars that aligns resources with true costs of serving students. Children with disabilities, and all children throughout Pennsylvania, will benefit from this legislation and its solution to fixing the broken system for special education funding and accountability.

Call your State Senators and State Representatives and tell them that you support these two bills.

 

Lisa Lightner

Avondale


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



special education pennsylvania general assembly


You might also like

Stop the discrimination against special education students

Stop the discrimination against special education students

Special education report is a good first step, but education in PA needs more

While the number of children in special education classes has rise, the funding has remained stagnant since 2009.

  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/04/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/08/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/08/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/08/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/09/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/09/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • West Chester Applebee’s, located at 1107 West Chester Pike, will be hosting two lemonade stands: ...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/03/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Milburn Orchards UPICK Cherry Adventure

    07/03/2015
    08:00am — 06:00pm

    Tons of sweet (both red & white) and tart cherries makes for a great UPICK Adventure for the whol...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/04/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/05/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Delaware Aerospace Overnight Academy

    07/05/2015
    12:00pm — 03:00pm

    Destination Moon academy is for students entering 7, 8, & 9th grade. The academy will run from J...


  • Week long academy at University of Delaware, Clayton Hall, from July 5th through July 10th for st...


  • Steamin' Day at Auburn Heights

    07/05/2015
    12:30pm — 04:30pm

    Celebrate stars, stripes, and steam during Steamin’ Day at Auburn Heights over the 4th of July ho...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/05/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/05/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/06/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    07/06/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    07/06/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/07/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/08/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/08/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/08/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/09/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/09/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • West Chester Applebee’s, located at 1107 W Chester Pike is hosting a bake sale July 10 through Ju...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/10/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/10/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • Friday Night Lights

    07/10/2015
    08:00pm — 11:00pm

    Natural Lands Trust's popular adults-only event returns for the fifth year! Enjoy a relaxing even...


  • How Not to Kill Your Tree

    07/11/2015
    09:00am — 11:00am

    Every tree is a masterpiece of form, function, and value. This homeowner-friendly workshop presen...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Second Saturdays

    07/11/2015
    10:00am — 04:00pm

    Join us on the Second Saturday of each month for special programming in our native plant gardens....


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/11/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/11/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/12/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Save Our Monarchs

    07/12/2015
    12:30pm — 03:30pm

    Monarch butterfly numbers have declined more than 90% over the past 20 years. Habitat destruction...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/12/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/12/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/13/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    07/13/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    07/13/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/14/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/15/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/15/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/15/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/15/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/15/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/15/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/16/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/16/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/17/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/17/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/18/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Civil War Brass Band Concert

    07/18/2015
    05:00pm

    On Saturday, July 18th the Mill at Anselma Preservation & Education Trust will present a concert ...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/18/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • Integrated Pest Management

    07/18/2015
    08:30am — 05:00pm

    Every garden is home to a host of life. Unfortunately, some of these six- and eight-legged arthro...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/19/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Milburn Orchards Sundae Sunday

    07/19/2015
    12:00pm — 05:00pm

    Celebrate National Ice Cream Day at Milburn's on 7/19 with FREE face painting from 12-3pm, plus a...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/19/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/19/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Life in the 1860s Weekend

    07/19/2015
    10:00am — 04:00pm

    How did people dress and live in the 1860s? What was it like to be a miller at this time? Come ou...


  • Vacation Bible School

    07/20/2015
    09:00am — 12:00pm

    Vacation Bible School will be held July 20-24, 2015, 9 am until noon at The United Church of Chr...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/20/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/20/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    07/20/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    07/20/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/21/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/21/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • The Spayed Club now has THREE transport locations throughout the Greater Philadelphia area -- Pot...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/22/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/22/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/22/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/22/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/22/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/22/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/23/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/23/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/23/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Cecil County Fair

    07/24/2015
    08:00am — 09:00pm

    There is something for everyone at the Cecil County Fair. Highlights include the carnival midway,...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/24/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/24/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


Chester County High School Sports