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Special Education Takes Center Stage in School Budget Problems

Abadnonned schoolBy Anne Dachel

Looking back over January it’s clear that the stories I’ve been collecting over the past three full years are unstoppable. There is no plateau to be reached where cost and demand level out.  

Everywhere in the English-speaking world, as far as I can see, special education is taking center stage in school budgets talks. Reports on special ed enrollment are invariably about growth and the need for more teachers to accommodate more special ed students. And we’re constantly told that kids with needs go way beyond just cognitive delays. Today special education involves students with behavioral issues/emotional problems. Stories often mention that the disorders these kids have are more complex. And at the same time all this is going on, our children are increasingly plagued with chronic health problems never before seen at today’s rates.

So how will we pay for all of this? Will we have to take from the general ed money to pay for special ed?

Actually I am seeing this being talked about in news reports. There’s no way they can avoid the issue. The money has to come for somewhere since it’s a federal law that special needs kids have a right to a free and appropriate education, and the feds haven’t increased funding. This means state and local governments have to come up with the cash.

So how much longer will this go on? Are we approaching a point where someone will sound an alarm and demand we look into the state of children’s physical, mental, emotional health?

I’d like to think so, but I have watched autism grow from a novel, unheard of condition over the past twenty years to a normal and acceptable part of childhood. The same thing seems to be happening with all kids with special ed needs.

Let me start with a really strange story from the Pocohantas (WV) Times entitled, School system increasing medical staff for student safety  Staff reporter Suzanne Stewart made it clear that students are coming to school with really serious health issues/learning problems all the while she’s completely disinterested in why it’s happening.

Stewart reported, “… the medical issues of students today have grown to the point that a medical professional is needed full-time.”

To meet the needs of the students, superintendent of schools Terrence Beam said the Pocahontas County Board of Education is seeking two LPNs to assist school nurse Jenny Friel.

Schools become clinics

Superintendent Beam:

‘Our kids are coming to us with all kinds of emotional and physical issues that – up to this point – we have been unable to provide the assistance that was necessary….

 ‘The actual physical condition of the kids is different than it was twenty years ago. We have more diabetic students. We have more kids with major allergies. We have kids with seizure disorders.’…

Schools now are in charge providing medical care as well as classroom learning, and while we’re told there are school-based clinics in every school, this is not enough.

“In addition to physical medical concerns, there is also an increase in social and emotional issues, which Beam hopes to also address soon.”

Beam: ‘The next step we’re going to take is to employ a social worker for our schools. …We’re going to expand our counseling services.’

At the end, the superintendent conceded that he has no choice. We have to adjust to the students of the 21st century.

Sometimes we focus a lot on the academics and the athletics in our school systems, but we really need to look at the physical and the mental condition of our kids, because it is difficult.’

So if the superintendent isn’t looking for answers and yet another reporter has no interest in asking for an explanation for what’s happening, nothing will improve. Expect the downward spiral to continue. All the things happening in Pocahontas County schools should be seen as an unprecedented crisis.  More kids with diabetes, seizures, and ‘major allergies’ should be scaring everyone.  

Pocahontas County is not alone in this nightmare. Here are a few examples to show just how widespread this is.

Jan 25, Charlotte (NC) Observer:

$5.6M in county funding will be used to hire 25 new social workers for the district. In addition,

“The district is looking to hire 30 additional mental-health professionals, including counselors and psychologists….

“Staffing deficits at CMS call for recruiting 500 more social workers, as well as 150 counselors and 115 psychologists, according to an analysis provided to the Mecklenburg County commissioners ahead of their annual board retreat next week. …

“In recent years, the number of students screened for suicide risk at CMS has soared.”

Jan 24, WAAY-TV Huntsville, AL:

Alabama Department of Education is asking for $7.7M in additional funding to address student mental health. 

‘I think across our state and certainly across our district, we're seeing an increase of mental health issues at an earlier age for students.’

“The money would also provide more full-time therapists to schools. …”

Jan 24, NorthCentralPA,com:

Danville, Pennsylvania school district is shortening the school day and reducing class requirements to help improve students mental health.

Jan 24, Charlottesville (VA) Daily Progress:

A bill in the state legislature to authorize all school nurses to stock Albuterol inhalers for students with asthma.

Jan 23, (Canada) Leghbridge News:

The government of Alberta, as of Jan 1st, “has required all K-12 schools in the province to have at least one epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) on-site at all times” in case of a severe allergic reaction.

Jan 22, (UK) Barking and Dagenham Post:

“Barking and Dagenham has experienced rapidly increasing numbers of youngsters needing support for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), councillors heard.

“A forecast total of 113 primary and 353 secondary SEND pupils is anticipated over the next four years, the majority with autism….”

Jan 22, Trumbull (CT) Times:

“[Superintendent] Iassogna had told the board the schools were running a deficit projected at up to $2 million and that he had implemented a spending freeze and a hold on overtime and substitute teacher costs….

“The biggest factor, though, is special education and transportation for students in special education programs, he said.

“‘In October 2019, we identified $1.4 million in special education and transportation costs,’ O’Keefe said. ‘That number has only grown.’”

Jan 21, AZFamily.com:

“With more students having more severe disabilities, there is a growing strain on general classroom spending in Arizona's public schools.

“Now, Arizona lawmakers are considering a bill that would help public schools manage the rising cost of special education services….

“Dr. Kym Marshall, Director of Student Services for Chandler Unified School District says the special education population has exploded and so have the needs.

“‘It’s not just about reading writing and math, it’s more about mental health, social emotional,’ said Marshall….

“‘What we do know is that the population keeps growing without any additional funding.’

“Between the 2007 to 20017 school years, the number of Arizona students diagnosed with autism more than doubled…

“‘There are just too many children who fall into these classifications that haven’t been true in the past,’ said Sen. Allen. ‘I don’t know all the reasons and I guess it doesn’t matter for this argument. We have the issue now let’s try to help these kids.’” …

Jan 19, Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette:

Cedar Rapids elementary school students were held in seclusion rooms or physically restrained 237 times in the first month of this school year — more than 10 times a day and more than four times as much as in the first month of the 2015-2016 school year….

“School seclusion has been a lightning rod in recent years as more parents learn about 6-by-6 foot rooms with padded walls used to contain overwrought students in schools across Iowa….

“…most elementary students were put into seclusion for violent behavior that included kicking, biting, hitting and throwing items that could harm others….

“Teacher and staff injuries that involved students rose 88 percent, from 226 to 425, in the past five years in the Des Moines Public Schools,…”

Jan 18, (UK) Sunderland Echo:

With concern growing that an increasing use of the booths for disruptive students could have serious effects on young people's mental health, we asked if their use should be stopped.”

Jan 17, South Portland (ME) Press Herald:

As schools deal with an increasing number of children with disabilities like autism, demand for disabilities awareness and sensitivity programs has increased, meaning Portland-based organization The Cromwell Center currently has a waiting list of 25 schools….

“She estimates that between 10 and 12 percent of the school’s students have some type of disability and said that while she has not noticed more autism diagnoses in recent years, she said the number of students who are in special education or require an individualized education plan has increased over the last few years.”

Jan 16, Wilmington (NC) Daily News:

“Collected data also showed students with disabilities were secluded more frequently than those without disabilities. During the 2013-2014 school year, students with disabilities were subjected to seclusion rates ‘that far exceeded those of other students,’ according to an OCR report published in 2016….”

Jan 15, (UK) North Somerset Times:

“A special school has received overwhelming support for its expansion ambitions, during a five-week consultation.

“Baytree School, in Weston, is desperately in need of more space to cope with the growing demand for children with  special educational needs.”

Jan 14, (UK) Independent:

“Families of autistic children are facing waits of up to three years for a formal diagnosis, a charity has warned. 

“Around half (46 per cent) of families waited 18 months or longer for a formal diagnosis for their autistic child, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 parents by Ambitious about Autism. 

“Once a diagnosis is made, nearly three in four (70 per cent) parents said they were still not offered adequate support for their child – such as therapies that help with speech and language.”

Jan 11, Texarkana (AR) Gazette:

Over the past decade, greater numbers of Arkansas children have been diagnosed with disabilities that require them to receive education.

“Consequently, Arkansas public schools are spending greater amounts of money on special education.

“Last year, there were almost 64,000 students with a diagnosed disability in Arkansas public schools. That is 13.4% of the state's total student enrollment….

“The number of students diagnosed with autism has gone up 55% since 2013. The increase is attributable to an increased awareness among educators and others of the characteristics of autism.

“The growth in children diagnosed with dyslexia has followed a similar trend. In 2014, for example, 957 students received therapy for dyslexia. In 2014, only 89 school districts and one charter school reported results from screening for dyslexia.”

Jan 9, (UK) Guardian:

“A special needs school has welcomed plans to increase its capacity in the face of growing demand.

“New Rush Hall school, in Fencepiece Road, Fairlop, will be expanded from 64 places to 80 after Redbridge Council gave plans the green light on Tuesday, January 7.

“The school – rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2016 – is a specialist school for children and young people experiencing significant social, emotional, behavioural and/or mental health difficulties.

“Executive headteacher, Sam Walters, welcomed the news, saying the demand for places had greatly risen in recent years.

“He said: ‘There has been a huge increase in the number of young people needing EHC plans, particularly for social and mental health needs, has naturally meant that there are not enough appropriate school place to meet the populaces needs.’ …

“Since 2014, the number of Redbridge resident pupils with an EHC plan has risen approximately 35 per cent.

“Council officials estimate the borough’s special educational needs and disability (SEND) pupil population will grow by 16.5 per cent (153 school places) for primary education and 33.7 per cent (248 places) for secondary by 2025.”

Jan 8, 2020, NJ Spotlight:

“Tuition for out-of-district placement of some students often runs well into six figures

“The high cost of special education in New Jersey is getting renewed attention, as Senate President Steve Sweeney presses the state to do more to help districts pay for students with severe disabilities….

“Long an advocate for special education as a parent of a child with special needs, Sweeney said he wants to ease the tension that arises with the high costs of serving these students, and said the state can and should do more….

“But the rising costs of special education — and specifically those of specialized outside schools where tuition costs can reach six figures — has been a contentious issue for years, if not decades….”

Jan 8, Butte Montana Standard:

“‘So this whole thing here is the sensory hallway, and we added it as a way for kids to calm down themselves,’ said Norah Barney, Lincoln Primary School principal. She said the school’s occupational therapist, Addie Hall, created the pathway just in time for the 2019-2020 school year….

“While it helps students with motor skills and provides sensory input, the sensory hallway is part of a larger movement to get Lincoln students to learn how to ‘self-regulate.’

“‘What’s self-regulate? So think of it like: When you get upset, are you able to calm yourself without assistance?’ explained Barney.”

Jan 7, (UK) KLFM, Norfolk:

The plan is part of Norfolk County Council’s £120 million [$160M US] transformation of special educational needs.

“The programme seeks to create 500 extra school places by building up to four new specialist schools and expanding existing SRBs or building new ones.”

Jan 5, 2020, (UK) Exeter Fe News:

“With one in eight children suffering from some form of mental health issue during their childhood years, it is important that we as parents and teachers are able to understand what this means for our children and how we can support them….”


elaine dow

Everyone, my father grew up in Butte, Montana. It at one time was the largest copper mine in the world. I had an aunt who had polio in 1911, and I have a cousin there with MS and my other aunt has narcolepsy. I saw on Full Measure, Sharyl Atkissom's show on Fox, that Butte, Montana is one of the our country's toxic supersites. It would be no surprise in this town to see a high level of special educations students, the combination of vaccines and environment. Interestingly enough, it was the second largest Irish Catholic settlements next to Boston in the country. The Irish may to prone to not being able to detoxify as well as others. I also expressed TTP (purpura) after a DPT shot when I was five and my Joe is vaccine injured.


Do private schools in the US have rates similar to public schools? Or is it that the rich really are different?


Two things about the rise, and rise, and rise -- in numbers in Special Ed.

First, the comment about turning schools into clinics is spot on. Very reminiscent of turning prisons into mental-health facilities. Neither one is going to adequately do the job. Each is happening by default, because the real need is not being addressed outside that institution.

Second, one reason not enough is being done . . . it's largely the money, but also . . . it's the boil-a-frog thing. Little by little the heat is being turned up and turned up. Just about now, it's about at the boiling point.

Aimee Doyle

@ Jeannette - "If we simply all refused to fund and participate in the CDC's and local health department's vaccine promotion and purchasing activities, the schools wouldn't see a need for so much money starting in Kindergarten in 4-5 years and working forward from there (but we'd need to reverse course on EMF pollution, too, to really see a healthy youth population)."

We also need clean air, clean water, clean (non-GMO, non-irradiated, pesticide-free) food. I think these would make a big difference in both children's and adults' health.

Of course, anything that cuts into corporate profits is unlikely to be implemented, except by the small group of people who can afford healthy, uncontaminated, food and water. Then again, none of us have any choice about breathing the same air.


The CDC doesn't seem to have updated its vaccine cost/benefit analysis since April 23, 2014.
Its interesting (to the point of horrifying) to compare the CDC guestimated costs of natural viral diseases vis ‘real world’ costs of diseases due to vaccine injury, where the costs are often never ending. Let alone the effect it has on the quality of family life.
Some evidence that the tides turning is that in the comments section below pro-vaccine videos on Youtube, more people are putting links to science papers that refute the claims made. Awareness is growing.

John Stone

My letter just posted on BMJ Rapid Responses:


More resilience or lower toxic exposure?
Dear Editor

The paper by Mayada Elsabbagh [1] displays many of the same problems as the paper by Zwaigenbaum and Penner [2] back in May 2018. On that occasion I wrote [3]:

"I have read this review with interest but disquiet ... There is perhaps little point in talking about a global prevalence of autism, which Zwaigenbaum and Penner place according to literature at between 1 and 1.5% if autism is rising dynamically in many parts of the world including the United Kingdom - as I have been recently detailing in the columns of BMJ on-line ... For instance, recent data from Northern Ireland showed an overall prevalence in schools there of 2.9%, having risen from 1.2% nine years ago, but there are also big disparities between economic classes and town and country, while in Belfast the rate was 4.7% ... Unfortunately, as Zwaigenbaum and Penner point out diagnosis is characteristically delayed so the true rates are likely much higher..."

It should be noted that by May 2019 the Northern Ireland school's autism rate had risen to 3.3% and Belfast's 5.6% while 58% of these were at Stage 5 (the highest measure of disability) [4], and such are the dynamics behind these figures that they will almost certain be higher again this year. My own supposition is that the data for Northern Ireland while necessarily incomplete (because diagnosis takes time) are nevertheless more complete than the rest of the United Kingdom where demand for autism services continue to spin out of control, as I have documented copiously in these columns [5,6]. The causes of such an unviable population change can scarcely be genetic.

Citing a paper by Gaugler [7], Elsabbagh reports [1]: "While estimates vary, there is general agreement that heritability is greater than 50%,... with first degree relatives having a higher risk for developing autism relative to the general population" but to talk about "liability" as in the Gaugler paper or "susceptibility" as in in many autism gene papers is quite different from determination or causation, and it makes no sense when once we were talking about 0.2% of the population or even 0.02% [6] and now we are talking about 3.3% and rising. It also makes no sense when people who share genes also often share environmental exposures: yes, indeed, they might have been more "resilient" if they had not been hit by this or that environmental factor which did not exist in the past, in a different place or just randomly. Recently, I was interested to encounter the PhD thesis of Toby Rogers. Rogers states [8]:

"Autism cost the U.S. $268 billion (1.5% of GDP) in 2015; if autism continues to increase at its current rate, autism will cost the U.S. over $1 trillion (3.6% of GDP) in 2025 (as a point of comparison, U.S. Defense Department spending is 3.1% of GDP). Over the last decade, several groups of leading epidemiologists, doctors, and public health experts have published consensus statements declaring that toxicants in the environment are contributing to the rising prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. Beyond the consensus statements, a range of independent researchers have identified many additional factors that appear to increase autism risk..."

Looking at just the vaccine programme most infants will now have received in the United Kingdom by birth seasonal flu vaccine and a four in one vaccine Polio+DTaP [9]. Before 6 months they will have as well [11]:

8 weeks:
6-in-1 vaccine (Polio, DTaP, HiB, Hep B)
RV (rotavirus) vaccine
MenB vaccine

12 weeks:
6-in-1 vaccine – 2nd dose
PCV (pneumococcal) vaccine (13 strain)
RV (rotavirus) vaccine – 2nd dose

16 weeks:
6-in-1 vaccine – 3rd dose
MenB vaccine – 2nd dose

This may be a little less than in recent years but apart from excoriating Andrew Wakefield [12] it is not clear what machinery the MHRA have for detecting and assessing the neurological fall out of all this exposure [13-16].

It would be idle to give the impression that we are dealing with anything historically normal or sustainable, nor can we any longer afford the dogma of vaccine safety.

[1] Mayada Elsabbagh, 'Linking risk factors and outcomes in autism spectrum disorder: is there evidence for resilience?',
BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6880 (Published 28 January 2020)

[2] Zwaigenbaum L, Penner M, 'Autism spectrum disorder: advances in diagnosis and evaluation', BMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1674 (Published 21 May 2018)

[3] John Stone, 'Re: Autism spectrum disorder: advances in diagnosis and evaluation' 21 may 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k1674/rr

[4] Ian Waugh, The Prevalence of Autism (including Asperger Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland 2019', Information Analysis, Directorate May 2019, https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/asd...

[5] Responses to Wise, 'Social care: pressure mounts for urgent and radical reform', https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l4564/rapid-responses

[6] John Stone, 'Response to David Oliver I (The Indisputable Rise in Autism), 28 August 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3596/rr-12

[7] Gaugler T, Klei L, Sanders SJ, et al. 'Most genetic risk for autism resides with common variation', Nat Genet2014;46:881-5. doi:10.1038/ng.3039 pmid:25038753

[8] Toby M Rogers, 'The Political Economy of Autism', University of Sydney, October 2018, https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/20198

[9] https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/can-i-have-vaccinat...

[10] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/whooping-cough-vaccinat...

[11] https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/vaccinations-and-immunisations-baby/

[12] Philip T Brian, June Raine, Ian Hudson, 'MHRA response to BMJ Editor’s Choice – ‘A tale of two vaccines’, 10 October 2018, https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4152/rr-11

[13] [Peter Doshi, 'Pandemrix vaccine: why was the public not told of early warning signs?',
BMJ 2018; 362 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3948 (Published 20 September 2018)

[14] Responses to Doshi, 'Pandemrix vaccine: why was the public not told of early warning signs?', https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3948/rapid-responses

[15] Fiona Godlee, 'A tale of two vaccines', BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4152 (Published 04 October 2018)

[16] Responses to Godlee, 'A tale of two vaccines', https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4152/rapid-responses

W John Martin

Infections with stealth adapted viruses can explain the rise in childhood chronic illnesses. Yet there is essentially no acknowledgment of these viruses by Government authorities, nor by parents who are burdened with having to care for their sick children. The usual excuse is that no one has duplicated the culturing of stealth adapted viruses. My interpretation is that no one has really tried or wants to do so. In part, there is understandable hesitation with ascribing childhood illnesses to contagious viruses. So, the epidemic continues. Recently published data, which I would be pleased to share, indicate that certain stealth adapted viruses have transmitted infectious rhesus monkey cellular sequences to humans. This has many long-term implications regarding the integrity of the human genome and the potential of additional transmissible illnesses. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that illnesses due to stealth adapted viruses can be suppressed and that this will lead to symptomatic improvements. This is where collaborative efforts should be directed.

Jeannette Bishop

Maybe I'm not completely right on this, but I've had the vague impression that schools have been largely mollified over the increasing numbers of disabilities in children into not really questioning because some "additional" funding came with it (and not necessarily with additional expectations of performance academics-wise on their part) hoping that funding would spill into helping somewhere, anywhere, not neccessarily into actually helping the child the funding was for.

These repeated stories in the media then give the vague impression to readers that something is being done, at least it's being talked over, but it's mostly still about saying "we need more money." I've given up on public school doing anything to prevent or participate in turning around the course of the vaccine injury epidemics.

If we simply all refused to fund and participate in the CDC's and local health department's vaccine promotion and purchasing activities, the schools wouldn't see a need for so much money starting in Kindergarten in 4-5 years and working forward from there (but we'd need to reverse course on EMF pollution, too, to really see a healthy youth population).

All the collective pension funds (another source of group mollification I'm thinking) might have to then divest of pharma stocks over the coming years to stay competitive, but that wouldn't be a tragedy either. It would be even less tragic if the divestment started now for ethical considerations. Who wants to live a compfortable retirement (maybe not possible now anyway, the financial activities of government and corporations are so rigged and fraudulent) funded at least in part by the sickening of the next generation and the shortening of life expectancy for everyone?

Bob Moffit

"The actual physical condition of the kids is different than it was twenty years ago. We have more diabetic students. We have more kids with major allergies. We have kids with seizure disorders.’… "

"With one in eight children suffering from some form of mental health issue during their childhood years, it is important that we as parents and teachers are able to understand what this means for our children and how we can support them….”

All over the country, State after State … our schools are scrambling to fund the exploding costs of "special needs" education .. which a recent economics professor has predicted the financial costs of SPECIAL EDUCATION WILL SOON EXCEED THE FINANCIAL COSTS OF OUR NATION'S HIGHEST PRIORITY … NATIONAL DEFENSE. We are looking at numbers in the TRILLIONS not BILLIONS …

According to Harvard research .. that "one in eight child" suffering from some form of mental health issue during their childhood years is now much worse … with 54% of children today suffering some type of NEUROLOGICAL, BIOLOGICAL, PHYSICAL .. CHRONIC AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER … which is no longer "1 in 8" children but "4 in 8" children .. a positively frightening RISING trend since the 1980's when it was believed that "12% of children" had childhood development problems.


It is like we are living on the Titanic … fast approaching a looming iceberg … and … NO ONE IN THE SHIP'S CONTROL ROOM EITHER SEES THE ICEBERG OR SEES IT AND DOES NOT CARE.

How in God's name can ANY country producing generation after generation of UNHEALTHY CHILDREN EXPECT TO PROTECT AND DEFEND OUR COUNTRY. With 54% today being unhealthy to serve in our police, fire, military .. who will we be forced to rely upon????

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