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“When it comes to the education of our children…failure is not an option.”

                                        President George W. Bush  


This statement was made twenty years after the 1983 Reagan administration commission of the report A Nation at Risk, which warned of “a rising tide of mediocrity [in our schools] that threatens our very future as a nation and as a people.”














Lack of a good education frequently leads to under-emplyment, unemployment and lifelong reliance on welfare, which carries on to the next generation.












We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard.


BARACK OBAMA, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 10, 2009







Graduation rates for students with disabilities remain abysmal. Across the United States, 63 percent of students with disabilities graduated from high school in 2014 — a rate of graduation roughly 20 percent lower than the national average. In Georgia, Nevada and Mississippi, students with disabilities graduated from high school at half the rate of their non-disabled peers. In 20 states, the graduation rate for students with disabilities is lower than 60 percent  - the threshold commonly used to identify schools as “dropout factories.”


Huffington Post -

The Special Education Graduation Gap,  Jan 14, 2017

Todd Grinda, Ed.Dl - Researcher with Abt Associates Inc,

Laura Schifter, Ed.D - Adjunct Lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education







“Policy considerations, convenience, and fairness call for assigning the burden of proof to the school district…”                         

                                                 Justice Ginsburg







“Unintentionally, the cost of Due Process and the changes in burden of proof have already developed another financial class system within the public education system.  THIS ONE IS JUST FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES.”

Marie Lewis, RN, BCEA

Clinical Director

National Special Education Advocacy Institute


“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.“                    
                                                               Frederick Douglass


IDEA’s intent of collaborative decision making and early dispute resolution










Learning Disabilities Continue To Be Unidentified or Treated

  • A significant number of learning disabilities are either not identified or not properly assessed, and proper special education services are therefore not provided.

  • Despite intelligence levels adequate to go to college, students with unidentified or inappropriately identified learning disabilities drop out of school, barely pass and have lower paying unskilled jobs.

  • Unaddressed leaning disabilities lead to behavioral problems that mask the initial disability (50-78% of juveniles incarcerated have learning disabilities).

  • Children with unaddressed learning disabilities often self medicate with alcohol and drugs (60% of people recovering from addictions have some form of a learning disability).

Disability Segregation

  • Children with learning disabilities are often segregated unnecessarily from non-disabled peers and thus denied the opportunity to develop necessary social skills.

  • Segregated classes are often not as academically rigorous and lack many resources found in regular education classes.

  • Non-disabled peers are denied the opportunity to learn about and from disabled peers, perpetuating stereotypes of the disabled.



  • A one-year increase in average years of schooling for dropouts would reduce murder and assault rates by almost 30%, motor vehicle theft by 20%, arson by 13%, and burglary and larceny by about 6%.

  • 250,000 crimes a year on school property were reported to police.

  • Ten percent of 10th graders admit to taking a weapon to school during the past month.


Lack of Adequate Infrastructure

  • 3/4 of public schools report less than adequate conditions, roofs and electrical power needing repairs, renovations or modernization. The average repair needed per school is $2.2 million, or $3,800 per student.


English-Language Learners

  • English Language Learner numbers increased in public schools from 3.5 million to 5.3 million, a 51% from 1980 to 2009. Only 12% of 4th grade ELLs scored proficient or above in math and only 5% of 8th grade ELLs. In reading only 3 percent of 4th and 8th grade ELLs were proficient or above.


High School Dropout Crisis

  • The national high school graduation rate for 2013 was a deplorable 81.4 percent – an all-time high.

  • We have a dropout crisis with 250,000 students failing to graduate each year.

White     4.8%
Black     9.9%
Latino     18.3%
Asian     4.4%
American Indian/Alaska Native 14.6%

Those with Learning Disabilities 19.0%

  • The U.S. has 7000 High School dropouts per day / one every 26 seconds

    • Dropouts will earn about $260,000 less than high school graduates

    • Dropouts will earn $800,000 less than college graduates in their lifetime

    • Dropouts have a decreased life expectancy of 9.2 years as compared to high school graduates.

    • Dropouts require more social services

    • Dropouts are 8xs more likely to go to prison

    • Dropouts are more likely to be on welfare and have poorer health

    • Dropouts are less likely to vote

      • Only 4% of high school dropouts voted in 2012

      • 24% of high school graduates voted in 2012

      • 37%  of college graduates voted in 2012

    • Dropouts are not eligible for 90% of new jobs

    • Dropouts do not create new jobs

  • 2011 graduation rates, with a regular diploma, for students with disabilities remain in very low 68%

  • African-American and Hispanic/Latino students are graduating 10-15 points behind the national average.

  • 90% of middle- and high-income students graduating on time

    • 70% of low-income students graduate on time and

    • 62% of those with disabilities graduate on time and they constitute 13% of the school enrollment

  • In 11 states, less than 70% of low-income students graduate

  • 33 % of students with LD are held back a grade

  • 50 % of students with LD were suspended or expelled from school in 2011

  • U.S. public high schools recorded a four-year graduation rate of 80 percent for the 2011-12 school year, an Nationwide, black students graduated at a rate of 69 percent; Hispanics graduated at 73 percent; whites graduated at a rate of 86 percent


College Readiness

  • Nationally more than 25 percent of U.S. students fail to graduate high school in four years and 40% of Hispanic and African-American students failed to graduate high school in four years.

  • According to the ACT, only 22 percent of U.S. high school students met “college ready” standards in all of their core subjects

    • Of college-bound seniors, only 43% met college-ready standards.

    • Upon graduating high school, more than 50% of college-bound students need to take remedial classes in one or more subjects.

  • Only 25% of U.S. students are proficient or better in civics, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Program


Self Advocacy Through Transition 

  • Only 24% students with learning disabilities informed their post secondary school of their eligibility for accomodations and only 17% got support and accomodations.



  • Working age adults with LD are employed 25% less than those without LD           (46% vs 71%)

  • Even 8 years after leaving high school, 67% of those with LD earned $25,000 or less per year.

  • Only 19 percent of the employers of those with LD are aware that their employee has a LD and only 5 percent receive accommodations in the workplace.


College Graduation

  • ONLY 58 percent of first-time, full-time students, from public education, seeking a bachelor's degree at a 4-year institution completed that bachelor's degree at that institution within 6 years.

    • This is 150 percent longer than normal completion time for the degree

    • Only 41% with learning disabilities graduated in 8 years.

    • Graduation rates varied by type of institution

      • 65% at private nonprofit institutions

      • 56% at public institutions and

      • only 28% at private for-profit institutions.

    • Graduation completion rates varied by race/ ethnicity

      • Asian/Pacific Islander students at 69%

      • White students at 62%

      • Hispanic students at 50%

      • Black students at 39% and

      • American Indian/Alaska Native students at 39%

  • 75% of children in foster care want to go to college and only 3% get a bachelors degree.

  • College graduates are 3 times more likely to vote than high school dropouts.



  • 33% of public school students receive free or reduced price lunches.

  • 13% of public school students received Chapter 1 services. (federal program for poorly performing students in economically disadvantaged areas)


Under Qualified Teachers

  • On average, four out of 10 secondary school teachers do not have a degree in the subject they teach.


Over Crowding

  • 1/2 of elementary school teachers have 25 or more students in a class.


Job Readiness

  • According to U.S. manufacturers, despite high U.S. unemployment, and even higher under-employment, major U.S. employers cannot find qualified American applicants to fill their job openings.

    • 40% of 17 year olds do not have the math skills to hold down a production job at a manufacturing company

    • 60% of 17 year olds do not have the reading skills to hold down a production job at a manufacturing company


School to Prison Pipeline

  • High School dropouts are 8xs more likely to go to prison.

  • U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

  • 40% of students expelled from U.S. Schools each year are Black yet they only represent 30% of the population.

  • Students of color face harsher discipline and are more likelty to be pushed out of school than Whites.

  • 70% of students involved in "in-school" arrests are referred to law enforcement are Black or Latino.

  • Black students are 3.5 times more likely to be suspended than White students.

  • Black and Latino students are 2.0 times more likely to NOT GRADUATE high school than Whites.

  • 68% of all males in state and federal prison do not have a high school diploma.

  • 61% of the incarcerated population is Black or Latino yet they only represent 30% of the national population.

    • 1:3 Black males will be incarcerated in their lifetime.

    • 1:6 Latino males will be incarcerated in their lifetime.

  • 70% of inmates in CA state prisons are former foster care youth.

    • 50% of children in the foster care system are Black or Latino.

    • 30% of foster care youth entering the juvenile justice system are behavioral cases. 

    • 25% of foster care youth will be incarcerated within a few years after turning 18.

    • 50% of foster care youth will be unemployed within a few years after turning 18.


Ranking Among Industrialized Nations is Deplorable

  • The U.S. ranks poorly among 38/71 industrialized nations. – (2015 International Student Assessment)

    • 36th in Math

    • 24st in Science

    • 36th in Literacy

    • 12th in percent of 25-36 year olds with college degrees

      • (lower than Canada Israel and New Zealand)

    • The highest performing state (MA) was 2 years behind in education compared to Shanghai per the National PISA scores

  • The United States invests more in public education than other developed countries, yet U.S. students remain poorly prepared to compete with global peers.

    • The U.S. ranks fifth in spending per student. (Only Austria, Luxembourg, Norway, and Switzerland spend more per student).

    • The U.S.A. and the Slovak Republic scored similarly. They spend $53,000 per student while the U.S. spends $115,000.

    • The PISA report notes that, “higher expenditure on education is not highly predictive of better mathematics scores in PISA.”


Due Process

  • The due process system does not improve IDEA compliance and actually limits some parents from safeguarding special education rights for their children. National Survey on IDEA Due Process System showed that:

    • Nationally, only 3% of school districts had any multiple disputes that that resulted in litigation.

    • 51% of school districts said they had not been involved in special education litigation or due process in the past five years.

    • The 8 lowest hearing incidence states combined averaged fewer than 3        hearings per year

    • 56% of ALL adjudicated hearings were in 2 states (NY & NJ).

    • 24% of all adjudicated hearings were in the next 6 highest states combined

    • 20% of adjudicated hearings were in the next 42 highest states combined

  • The GAO Report showed that only 5/10,000 IDEA qualified students ever request a due process hearing.

  • The U.S. Department of Education notes that 94% of school districts have NO hearings.

  • TASH, found in 2011, that 36% of families, with children with disabilities, earn less than $25,000 a year and over 66% earn less than $50,000 a year. They cannot pay for expert fees, which are non-recoverable (in a due process).

  • The U.S. Congress reported that only 0.3% of special education spending is spent on mediation, due process, or other court cases.

  • Schools have been protected from frivolous cases since the enactment of 2004 IDEA. yet they use this as an excuse to prevent parents due process by increasing the cost of such hearings.



Senator Kennedy, in 2004, stated:

“Most parents don’t have access to any attorney, or must rely on low-cost (sub-standard inferred) legal aid. And data from surveys shows that even this help is in short supply…Those parents who have the courage to go it alone face schools that are well represented. State data shows that in 2003 schools were much more likely to bring an attorney to a hearing than parents were.” 150 Cong. Rec. S5351 (daily ed. May 12, 2004)


  • “Disciplinary issues are most likely to occur when students are ignored or not provided services they need, leading to measures that deprive them of appropriate preparation for life.”   

  • 50 % of students with LD were suspended or expelled from school in 2011

  • 45% of students with Learning Disabilities are reported to have been bullied at school.


National Security and Readiness

  • The Council on Foreign Relations Task Force, chaired by Joel I. Klein, the former head of New York City public schools, and Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. Secretary of State, reported on U.S. Education Reform and National Security. They noted that the decline in U.S. education performance is jeopardizing national security “Educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk,” The country “will not be able to keep pace—much less lead—globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long,”

  • According to the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force's Report, the lack of educational preparedness poses threats on five national security fronts:

    • Economic Growth and Competitiveness;

    • Physical Safety;

    • Intellectual Property;

    • U.S. Global Awareness;

    • U.S. Unity and Cohesion.

“Human capital will determine power in the current century, and the failure to produce that capital will undermine America’s security,” the report states. “Large, undereducated swaths of the population damage the ability of the United States to physically defend itself, protect its secure information, conduct diplomacy, and grow its economy.”

  • The 25% of American students who drop out of high school will not be able to serve in the U.S. military.

    • 30% of those who do graduate high school lack the basic math, science, and English competency to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

  • Eight out of ten Americans only speak English. Schools are dropping their foreign language requirements. Due to this lack of foreign language competency the U.S. State Department is experiencing a lack of trained linguists.

Departments of Education - Non-Compliance With The Law

  • “There is not a state in the nation in compliance with IDEA, Part B. NCD found schools in every state denying appropriate supports and services to students with disabilities, and not being held accountable for enforcement of the Act.” Back to School on Civil Rights, NCD 2000”

  •  “A significant lack of school accountability, poor enforcement of existing federal laws, and systemic barriers have denied students their educational rights and opportunities”  Achieving Independence: The Challenge for the 21st Century, NCD

  • “In the past 25 years, States have not met their general supervisory obligations to ensure compliance with the civil rights requirements of IDEA at the local level . . . The Federal Government has frequently failed to take effective action to enforce the civil rights protections of IDEA when federal officials determine that states have failed to ensure compliance with the law.”  National Council On Disability (NCD)

  • “As a result of 25 years of non-enforcement by the Federal Government, parents are still a main enforcement vehicle for ensuring compliance with IDEA…Many states are found eligible for full funding under Part B of IDEA while simultaneously failing to ensure compliance with the law. Though no state is fully ensuring compliance with IDEA, states usually receive full funding every fiscal year. Once eligible for funding, a state receives regular increases, which are automatic under the formula. OSEP's findings of state noncompliance with IDEA requirements usually have no effect on that state's eligibility for funding unless (1) the state's policies or procedures create systemic obstacles to implementing IDEA, or (2) persistent noncompliance leads OSEP to enforce by imposing high risk status with "special conditions" to be met for continued funding… OSEP found that 32 states (64%) had failed to ensure compliance… After 25 years, all states are out of compliance with IDEA to varying degrees.”    National Council On Disability (NCD)


Learning Differences Incidence

  • 0.14 percent of babies have Down syndrome (1/691 babies).

  • 0.31 percent of children have Cerebral Palsy (1/323 children). Cerebral Palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood.15

  • 14 percent of children ages 13-17 have a developmental disability.

  • 17 percent of Americans will experience a communication disorder at some point in their life (1/6 Americans).

  • 19 percent of all Americans are classified as a person with a disability (12 percent are severely disabled).

  • 2 percent of children have an autism spectrum disorder (1/50 children).     The prevalence of autism diagnoses increased 289.5 percent in 11 years between 1997 and 2008,  In 2013, 1 in 50 children was identified with an autism spectrum disorder, with the rate among boys of 1 in 31 (3.23%).

  • 25 percent of 13-18-year-olds have an anxiety disorder

  • 7 percent of children ages 3-17 have ADHD

  • 8 percent of children ages 3-17 have a learning disability

  • There is an over representation of Blacks and Hispanics in Special Education with learning disabilities

  • Girls are not being identified appropriately since 66% of those identified with reading difficulties are boys and reading disabilities are equal between boys and girls.

  • In 2014–15, the number of children and youth ages 3–21 receiving special education services was 6.6 million, or 13 percent of all public school students. Among children and youth receiving special education services, 35 percent had specific learning disabilities.


Specific Learning Disability   35%

S/L Impairment                       21%

Other Health Impairment     13%

Autism                                        8%

Intellectual Disability               7%

Developmental Delay              6%

Emotional Disturbance           5%

Multiple Disabilities                 2%

Hearing Impairment               1%

Orthopedic Impairment         1%


(Percentage distribution of children ages 3–21 served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, by disability type: School year 2013–14 as reported in 2017)



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