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Kalman Hettleman Thinks 80% of Sped Students Don't Belong in Sped

Crowded classBy Anne Dachel

Last week the World Mercury Project reported on the special education epidemic happening around the world in Part 4 of their series.

“In this four-part series, World Mercury Project's partner, Focus for Health (FFH), examined the special education epidemic, its crippling effects ...”

The WMP’s evidence that increasingly students in our schools today can’t learn or behave as children always have should be cause for follow-up by the national press, one would think, but sadly it’s probably not going to happen. In fact, they’ll do just the opposite.

Sunday, May 13th the Washington Post addressed this critical topic. The headline said it all: Veteran policymaker says 80 percent of special-ed kids don’t need that label

The Post, like every other mainstream news source out there, has never addressed the explosion in special needs students as a crisis. The truth is, it’s been completely ignored. Staten Island may have 24 percent of its students in special education, 22 percent in Racine, WI, 20 percent in Wahkiakum, WA, but still, it’s no cause for concern.

However, when an impressive group like the World Mercury Project, led by well-known environmentalist Robert Kennedy, Jr., calls what’s happening in special ed an epidemic, it’s  definitely going to draw more attention to the topic. The public might ask where the big name sources in print and broadcast news have been. Why have they said absolutely nothing about this?

The truth is, just like with the horrific increases in autism over the last two decades, the job of the media seems to be to first ignore the situation, and when finally forced to talk about it, deny anything is wrong.

This is exactly what the Post did in their story. The author of the piece, Jay Mathews, is the education columnist for the Post where he’s been working for nearly 50 years. Mathews interviewed Kalman R. “Buzzy” Hettleman who served two terms on the Baltimore school board and was deputy mayor of Baltimore and Maryland secretary of human resources. Surely these two people should be able to tell us what’s going on.

Hettleman, after a “long career looking at schools from every angle,” says that special education has been “captured by myths.”

Mathews: “Hettleman does not believe that most students in special education are truly disabled. Fewer than 20 percent, he says, have clearly defined conditions, such as Down syndrome, severe autism, or visual and hearing impairments. The rest, he says, are struggling learners, especially in reading. Their difficulties were sadly not identified and addressed in the crucial early grades.”

So the reason more kids are labeled SPED is because schools are not doing their job. The “struggling learners” out there aren’t getting help in their early grades, and they suffer for it throughout their years in school.

“On the other hand, special-education services for those mislabeled as disabled ‘could hardly be worse,’ he told me. ‘Students don’t catch up. They almost invariably fall further behind. All the while, they are segregated to varying degrees from peers and suffer stigma.’”

It makes no logical sense

One has to assume that schools used to do a good job helping the learning disabled, since they’ve had to educate them by federal law for over 40 years, but only recently stopped caring, thus causing the dramatic increase in SPED kids.

Looking at it from every angle, nothing said by Mathews or Hettleman relates to what’s happening in the real world.

Neither one of them acknowledges that SPED today is as much about BEHAVIOR as it is about learning problems. Why are schools everywhere putting in sensory and isolation rooms, therapy dogs, alternative seating, in-school mental health services, and hiring more and more classroom aides and school psychologists?

As expected, just as with the autism epidemic, the mainstream press is right there to tell us not to worry.

I’ve spent the last year and a half gathering nearly 4,000 stories  that prove we’re in the midst of an unsustainable disaster. We’re routinely given jaw-dropping statistics in LOCAL news reports with no explanation, so often in fact, that we’ve just learned to accept the outrageous rates, no questions asked.

May 12, 2018, Albany (NY) Herald:The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, says that 50 percent of all chronic illness begins before age 14, and 75 percent begin by age 24, with 20 percent of all youths ages 13-18 living with a mental health condition.”

May 11, 2018, St. Louis Post Dispatch: “One in two American children will develop a mood or behavioral disorder or substance abuse addiction before age 18.”

May 10, 2018, WKRUN Nashville, TN: “One in 10 children under the age of 18 is experiencing some impairment because of their behavioral health.”  

May 9, 2018, ABC9, Cedar Rapids, IA: … “School districts are required to report how often they use seclusion rooms or restraints to the U.S. Department of Education. The agency has now posted 2015 data. I9 dug through the numbers in 23 school districts in eastern Iowa and found there were a combined 4,904 instances of seclusion and restraint. That is 27 instances per school day.

“The new numbers nearly double the 2,514 instances reported in 2013. There were in all 4,904 instances documented in 2015.

“Iowa City had the highest usage jumping from 797 instances in 2013 to more than 1,700. This data came before the state admonished the district for over-using the rooms. Iowa City has since announced efforts to reduce seclusion room use.”

These stories are a tiny sample of what’s happening in every school. Each day, coverage like this is out there conditioning the local public to accept the decline in the mental and behavioral health of kids. Meanwhile, none of this shows up on CNN or in the Washington Post.

Now we see next move of leading media outlets. It’s to blame schools for not doing enough to help the disabled and to pretend that a special needs student is one who’s behind in reading.

Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.


go Trump

Almost time for the CDC to rev up the ... omg ZIKA program ... again.

A dozen cases or so and they quickly figure out it is the CAUSE of MICROCEPHALY and declare a PANDEMIC.

It will need a 1.8 billion dollar vaccine, and a new vaccine mandate for 4 million pregnant women in the USA.


Kalman Hettleman Thinks 80% of Sped Students Don't Belong in Sped

If 80% of Sped students don't belong in Sped, then what are the people at getting so excited about?

They don't have any problem recognizing the growing quantity of disabled kids in the US. In fact they seem almost giddy, as they seem to view it as a burgeoning new "Market Opportunity"


One particularly disturbing excerpt from this article, actually quantifies that excitement:

" ... The U.S. autism treatment market was estimated to be valued at $1.85 billion as of 2016, growing to $1.87 billion last year. Marketdata forecasts 3.9% average yearly growth, to $2.23 billion by 2022. This could be conservative, as insurance coverage is improving. ..."

Some day, someone will seek justice for what's been done to our children.


Penmanship was a large part of my Catholic school curriculum in the 50s. I thought those green cards with letters running around the top of the room were impossibly hideous. (That horrible "Q" gives me the creeps even now.) Today I write connected printing, as I find most people my age do. And so I was dismayed when, in the aughts, fifty years later, I looked through a window of my daughter's elementary school and saw those very same flipping letters dominating her classroom! I wasted a lot of my childhood practicing a particular cursive style, time I could have spent memorizing the priest's vestments.

World History is a required subject for graduation in my daughter's California high school. Whether or not she could have been exempted from her "health" class, I don't know. I wasn't interested in that.


I wonder if they have any "gifted" programs. Do gifted children still exist ?

Carolyn Simpson

I’ve been teaching in the same school district for 20 years. I don’t know who sits on the board. I’ve never known. Why? Because we’ve never crossed paths. I’m the one in the school, the classrooms, the hallways, the gymnasium and I can see with my own eyes how the students have changed. Board members? I don’t see them in the schools. So if Hettlemen thinks serving in s school board somehow makes him an observational expert on children I have to strongly disagree with him. If you want to know how the students are, ask their teachers. If you want confirmation that the students are sicker and in more need of help, ask a teacher who has been at it for 20 years or more.

Shelley Tzorfas

Schools have had to utilize exemptions for quite a while now. Many schools are beginning to remove analogue clocks because children can't seem to learn how to tell time. Schools are eliminating penmanship, writing in script or cursive, world history, home economics, classic literature (The literature is sometimes replaced with the stories of gangs; Blood Vs Crypts) and in many schools art is nothing more than a pushcart. Algebra and mathematics getting waived, while in Ca. your child cannot be exempt from studying LGBT and Transsexuality. Much of this is being eliminated for the so-called regular kids. The only exemptions to your child's development that you are having a hard time getting seems to be the exemptions that All children need and deserve; the Right Not to get tied down and SHOT UP with Neurotoxic Aluminum, thimerosal/Mercury, cancer-promoting Formaldehyde, Peanut oils leading to anaphylactic shock from foods, Aborted Human fetal cell DNA (Tumorigenic in nature), cells of pigs, dogs, insects, cows and other Toxic Ingredients

Jeannette Bishop

Occasionally, from about 2003 onward whenever I was spectator/fly-on-the-wall to a conversation among teachers/parents about SPED needs they were always talking about how many appeared to need services, speech therapy, and so forth they weren't getting and yet they had more than ever before getting services at the same time....from the time my daughter attempted Kindergarten until she was in high school resource-teacher-supported-homeschooling meetings whenever the situation with children in lower grades came up, no one ever gave me the impression they felt they were finally caught up to the demand/need.

And for some reason, meeting algebra requirements for graduation were waived the year that my daughter was finishing...I wonder how many born in '97-'98 (maybe '99 somewhat) with high compliance in receipt of all the TCVs just before the mercury issue came to light and it was "phased out" would have been unable to graduate otherwise? I don't know if they've reinstated those requirements in our state since then.


I'd love the post to come to my daughter's classroom and tell me which students would make it on their own in gen ed.


Kaan Hettleman doesn't seem to care that, in stark contrast to past generation, we have an epidemic of "struggling learners."

You'd think he'd wonder why today's teachers, parents, and pediatricians would have missed identifying and addressing this in the "crucial early grades."

He must think it's a conspiracy.

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