A new report finds that the percentage of students in Iowa schools who are sent to "special ed" classes is increasing dramatically. Kids are sent to "special education classes" after they’re tested and found to have a brain injury or autism; some sort of behavioral disorder; or a physical, mental, communication or learning disability.
Schools get more money, per student, to teach so-called "special ed" students. For example, a school gets nearly three times as much money from the state and federal government for a student that’s identified as needing the highest level of "special ed" services compared to a student in the general population. Since the school year that began in August of 1991, the number of special ed students in Iowa schools has increased by over 39 percent.
Yet the report from the Legislative Services Agency found that two-thirds of Iowa school districts have a "special ed" deficit — meaning the state and federal funding for "special ed" students hasn’t covered what schools have spent educating those students.