Special ed students could bankrupt districts

16 Nov

At least according to a television station in San Francisco, California. In Special ed students could bankrupt districts Lyanne Melendez lays out a simple thesis:

The budget problems facing schools across California are getting even worse. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of special education students in recent years and the added cost of teaching them could bankrupt some school districts.

Starting with a bad premise, the story is bound to come to a bad conclusion. First, there are no “added costs” to teaching special education students. There are costs to educating students. We as a country decided, rightfully so, that one can not deny a student an education because doing so would cost more than the average.

We often hear how special education budgets “encroach” on the general education budgets. That is a false idea. Special Education students *are* students. General funds money spent on Special Education students *is* appropriate.

The rest of the piece by Lyanne Melendez is a classic example of scapegoating. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but that is my take.

Scapegoat (noun): a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.

Why do I say this? Let’s look at one of the examples given in the story, Gilroy Unified School District. Google Maps puts Gilroy 80 miles south of San Francisco. Not to pick on Gilroy, but the idea that Special Education is bankrupting them doesn’t hold water.

Gilroy Unified School District is one of those districts that is struggling to cover the costs of educating special needs students.

“In 2002, our unfunded special ed costs were about $170,000, this school year it’s $3,200,000,” district spokesperson Deborah Toups said.

First, this irks me. There is no “unfunded” Special Education costs. The schools may not be reimbursed specifically for all special education costs, but they aren’t supposed to. Yes, there was a commitment by the Federal government to pay 40% of the costs (this is a sore point for me), but that doesn’t mean that local communities shouldn’t be funding whatever the Federal government doesn’t pay. Special education students are a part of the student population. It is the responsibility of the people to educate all students.

Let’s check some simple numbers. In the past 8 years, the budget for Gilroy Unified has been going down and the enrollment has been going up.

The website for the district has a number of documents relating to the budget. Here is the 2010-2011 budget book and here is a table of the budget and projected budgets (click it to enlarge):

The total budget is $82M this year. $3M for special education would be a big chunk of that budget. But, is that the whole story? I couldn’t find the 2002 budget numbers, but in 2005, the budget for Gilroy Unified was $119M .

So, the budget is down $37M in 5 years. Could this, perhaps, be part of the financial problem for Girloy Unified?

How about student population? The number of special ed kids has actually dropped. Gilroy had 882 special ed students in the 2009-10 school year and 923 2002-03 school year.

Note that overall student enrollment went up from 9,630 students in 2002/03 to to 11,116 in 2009/10. So, total student enrollment is going up, revenues are down.

Also, if I did my math correctly, that means that Gilroy Unified saw a *drop* in the percentage of Special Education students from 9.2% to 8.3%.

If you are interested in some more detail: from 2002 to 2009, the number of students in the “autism” special education category went up from 10 to 63. At the same time, students in the “mental retardation” category went down from 60 to 36. These numbers were dwarfed by the big drop in the number of children in the “specific learning disability” category (from 443 to 218).

Back to the budget. Here is a quote from the budget book:

The 2010-11 Revised State Budget defers $12.6 billion in revenue limit funding for K-12 education, including $5 billion in payments which are being postponed from one fiscal year to the next. The District will not receive approximately 25% of the State portion of Prop. 98 Revenue Limit funding for 2010-11 until the following year (July & August 2011). These cash deferrals are expected to be ongoing.

.

Yes, the State Government, in an effort to balance its own budget, isn’t paying school districts on time all the money they are committed to.
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When I looked for more information on Proposition 98 funding, I found this paragraph:

The Governor has stated that education has been “protected” in his proposed budget. It is important to note that “protected” does not mean that school districts will be spared further reductions. The District’s largest source of revenue, Prop. 98 Revenue Limit, has a funding deficit of 18.355%. In addition the Governor’s Proposed budget “fully funds” the cost of living allowance (COLA) at a negative 0.39% and adds an ongoing “targeted” funding reduction of 3.85% of school districts base revenue limit. The chart below shows the dollar amount per Average Daily Attendance (ADA) the District is entitled to under current funding formulas and the estimated funded amount.

So, the State is assuming that the cost of living is going down? Funding from Prop. 98 sources is down.

Another document that came up on the Gilroy Unified website for the search “budget” was Staff Letter re: 2010/2011 Budget. Here’s the opening paragraph:

The Governor released the proposed 2010-11 State Budget last week. Prior to its release, we were planning for budget reductions in the $3-4 million range. Unfortunately, the Governor’s budget significantly reduced funding for public schools and the amount we now need to cut is in the $6.3 million range – which is 11.4% of our unrestricted general fund budget. This unprecedented level of cuts follows two years of significant reductions in revenue from the State.

So, the State government “defers” paying the district, and “protects” education by reducing the payment they do make. How do we get from that to “special education students are bankrupting the district”?

Yes, California is having hard times. Yes, many special education students cost much more to educate than the average student. But, please, do we have to scapegoat these students with the label that they are “bankrupting” districts?

77 Responses to “Special ed students could bankrupt districts”

  1. passionlessDrone January 10, 2011 at 22:05 #

    Hi Sullivan –

    I heard someone make the following claim recently: the future competitiveness of world economies will depend on how much they are willing to neglect their elderly. In that regard, China will be in the lead.

    I think our problems competing are going to be far more wide reaching than this.

    A few months (a year now?) ago I saw a pretty cool piece on Discovery about China by Ted Koppel, I’d recommend it. Three pieces really struck me about why we are doomed in any kind of competition with them. Firstly, their growing middle class is the same size as the entire population of the US, they’ve got the numbers to out anything us, and free markets and enterprise are gradually creeping in. Secondly, the people there are largely hungry in ways that most American’s aren’t; one family was portraited; they were using 1/3 of their income to send their daughter (early teen / tween age) to school, which was a several hour train ride. She studied calculus every night, for a few hours. People in America just don’t do that, I think this is a function of being a few generations removed from literal subsistence farming. Lastly, there were manual laborers whose job was to physically destroy concrete so that the rebar inside could be re-used in other projects. I don’t think the limitations their government style enforces are going to be sufficient barriers to keep us competitive for long.

    There aren’t enough physical resources or energy to support the growing number of consumers who want to model American consumption; we had our time at the top of the Ponzi scheme, but the ends are starting to unravel. What this likely means is that for lots of people, their lifestyle might increase a little, but for lots of American’s, their lifestyle will do the opposite, but the pain of reductionism hurts worse; and once our ability to borrow endlessly without consequence ends, our very expensive to maintain social programs will be the first to suffer.

    I’m not preaching that I like it, I’m just telling you how I see it.

    I would agree with you that claiming special ed is the primary problem is bogus, I’m not sure Icarus did that or not; but as I see it, everything is going to take a hit that is funded publically. In the realm of my son’s classroom for example, that might mean going from two and a half FTE, to two, but that classroom was already overloaded to start with. Any hit will be difficult to support for what folks like you or I would think is ‘appropriate’.

    – pD

  2. Mike Stanton January 11, 2011 at 00:31 #

    Right now, it’s too expensive to afford. School Budgets tell us that. And, the cost differential tells us. The average cost is $9000/year…for a special needs education, $60,000/year + ?. Too much.

    If we are to have a serious discussion it is as well if we can agree on the facts. These are quite hard to come by as individual states record their expenditure under different headings. Some, but not all, have a category for special education. And of course they all use different cost centres and accounting procedures. So most of our information derives from academic studies and surveys rather than published annual budgets. I have used the report What Are We Spending on Special Education Services in the United States, 1999-2000? I know these figures are ten years old but this is the most recent comprehensive study that I could find. The last ten years have also seen a levelling off in the growth in numbers of pupils served by IDEA. From 1980 to 1999 numbers rose from 10% to 13% of the total school population. Since then the number has hovered between 13% and 14% and has shown a steady decline from a peak of 14% in 2005 and is now heading back to 13%.

    The report shows that expenditure on pupils served by IDEA has been fairly static. In 1988 the estimated ratio of spending compared to mainstream pupil was 2.28. in 1999 it was 1.90. This rose to 2.08 if capital spending on additional school facilities was included.

    So special needs students are on average twice as expensive as mainstream pupils to educate and have been for the last 20 years. The numbers rose quite sharply in the last century. But have levelled out in this century.

    Expenditure has been increasing in real terms. From 1969 to 1999 the increase was 110% in real terms after accounting for inflation. Compare that with the growth in expenditure on mainstream education of 140%. Special education costs have not been spiralling out of control. They have struggled to keep pace with mainstream costs.

    What about the minority who do take up massive amounts of resources? according to the New America Foundation half of one percent of all students require more than $100,000 in special education services. This number(330,000)has not grown significantly. The real increase has been in greater numbers of relatively low cost students with developmental disabilities. Overall special education students comprise approximately 14% of the school population and take up 21% of expenditure.

    Federal funding amounts to 9% of the total budget for special education. The states provide on average 46%. School districts have to find the remaining 45%. If the federal government only went half way to meeting its original commitment to providing up to 40% of the cost of special education it would ease the situations in many school districts.

  3. stanley seigler January 11, 2011 at 05:12 #

    my computer is playing mind games w/ me…perhaps format of
    the repeat below will make an eaiser read…LBRB owner pls delet my
    previous (stanley seigler January 11th, 2011 04:19:48) dont think
    anyone is saying there will NOT be cuts…and perhaps no one on
    LBRB is scapegoating special ed…my heartburn is the
    hypocrisy…legislation is written promising special needs children
    a FAPE…then never fully funded (now we are cutting)…are we
    playing a cruel…we were just kidding…joke on our children…
    it’s not about sped costing more…it’s about funding
    sped…providing programs to meet the needs of our children and
    neighbors. funds are available to fight wars we were lied into;
    wall street bailouts; and trillions in tax breaks to rich
    folks…but not available to fully fund IDEA. stop BS-King
    ourselves…fund or admit we don’t give a damn. “The test of our
    progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who
    have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have
    little. ” FDR we fail the test miserably Caruso say RE: RE:
    Consumption is the American ethic, is it not? We enjoy our
    consumption, to a fault. Some ethic…right up there with ethics of
    greed. RE: We may even think it [consumption] stimulates the
    economy, and helps the US auto industry, hence protecting
    sacrosanct middle class jobs. And most of the stimulation comes
    from middle class spending…the top 1% always have money to
    spend…there is no data (I find, help!) to show tax cuts to rich
    folks significantly stimulates the economy…and it doesn’t seem
    logical that it would. its part of the myth free market ideologues
    perpetuate…say it enough and no one questions and you believe it
    the face of contrary facts…boy was the economy ever stimulated by
    W’s tax cuts…stimulated to jump off a cliff. of course the tax
    cuts will spur investments and funds will trickle down to
    social/educational programs (be careful that trickle may not be
    rain water on your leg)… RE: The wealthy really are the only ones
    paying significant income tax. The bottom 50% pay 0 federal income
    tax, and the top 1% pay almost 35% of it Which is as it should
    be…the amount they pay is insignificant to them … the mite paid
    by the widow is most significant…critical to her…oh/and; How
    did the wealthy create jobs in the 1950’s when the top tax rate was
    90%?…How about the 60’s and 70’s when the top tax rate was around
    70%? How did the rich survive in the socialist state that was
    America back then?
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101213081610AAWO4pZ
    RE: “Tax Breaks” to corporations are a bit trickier. Global Capital
    is more mobile than ever capital is very tricky (global or
    otherwise)…we saw tricks WS did with subprime mortgages and short
    sales of bundled mortgages (triple A rated bonds)…so tricky RE:
    sweet deals to keep employment up in their respective geographies.
    This is the fate of states and municipalities in the context of
    mobile global capital. “We sometimes forget that we compete for
    people, not companies. The chamber types who brood about our [CA]
    loss of low-cost jobs to low-cost communities, have to explain why
    we still get one out of every two dollars of venture capital in the
    United States, and Texas [a no tax state] gets one out of 20.”
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DDRIGHTS/message/6423 RE: certain
    ‘truths’ seem clear…Your territory better be hospitable to
    Capital, or it will leave, Repeat: We sometimes forget that we
    compete for people, not companies. The chamber types who brood
    about our [CA] loss of low-cost jobs to low-cost communities, have
    to explain why we still get one out of every two dollars of venture
    capital in the United States, and Texas [a no tax state] gets one
    out of 20. RE: Your Labor Force better be competitive. Every
    industry needs an educational system that graduates students who
    can read, write and excel. And this why its dumb to cut funding to
    education. RE: The Wealthy are more mobile than the Poor. If you
    simply try and raise taxes on the wealthy, they tend to leave.
    There are 0 income tax states… Repeat: explain why we [CA] still
    get one out of every two dollars of venture capital in the United
    States, and Texas [a no tax state] gets one out of 20.” “We [CA]
    are [is] not a low-cost area, and you can’t make us one, Trying to
    do so, by cutting services to the bone to turn California into a
    low-tax state, places at risk the features that make California
    attractive to other industries and workers, such as
    high-tech…world-class higher education, transportation, clean air
    and clean water.” [ditto USA, my opine] CA is a high tax state…I
    haven’t noticed any for sale signs in beverly hills or malibu. a
    test of the myth that the economy is best under GOP
    administrations: Under which president, since WW2 produced: 1. The
    largest growth in gross domestic product? 2. The largest growth in
    jobs? 3. The biggest increase in personal disposable income after
    taxes? 4. The largest growth in industrial production? 5. The
    biggest rise in hourly wages? 6. The lowest Misery Index (inflation
    plus unemployment)? 7. The lowest inflation? 8. The largest
    reduction in the deficit? 9. During the 20th century, the Dow Jones
    industrial average rose on the average how much a year under
    Republican presidents? 10. During the 20th century, the Dow Jones
    industrial average rose on the average how much a year under
    Democratic presidents? Answers: 1) Truman 2) Carter 3) Johnson 4)
    Kennedy 5) Johnson 6) Truman 7) Truman 8) Clinton 9) 7.3% 10) 10.3%
    Note the difference in the increase under Democrats and Republicans
    amounts to 41% increase in net worth to investors. Moreover, since
    World War II, the national debt increased on average by 3.7% a year
    under Democratic administrations, compared with 9.1% when
    Republicans occupied the Oval Office. During the same period,
    Democratic presidents oversaw on average an unemployment rate of
    4.8%. For Republicans, it was 6.3%. RE: The European concept of
    Social Democracy is fracturing in front of us, And WITH TAX CUTS TO
    THE RICH the free market did so well from 2001-08 “Brown [moonbeam]
    also needs to help the voters understand the distinction between
    government expenses and government investment. The latter includes
    reforming and adequately funding the public schools and higher
    education [and special ed and regional centers], which have been
    getting shortchanged in money and policy.” stanley seigler full
    disclosure: most of the above comments are quotes from that liberal
    rag, the LATimes.

  4. Icarus January 11, 2011 at 10:55 #

    Mike Stanton – I cant really follow your writing all that
    clearly, but I’ll address a few points. – No one should really care
    about tax rates in the 1950’s, the so called ‘good old days’. It
    was such a different world. No minorities competing in the US, no
    equal rights, no globalization. And, most people didnt really pay
    those tax rates; there were many ways around it. False comparison.
    – Actually, California’s “high tech” economy could survive quite
    well with our brightest students (just give them UCLA, Berkeley,
    and Stanford grads), H1b immigrants, and low cost “help”. That’s
    it. They dont really need the booming middle class you refer to.
    Take our super smart people, couple it with hard working
    engineers/computer scientists, and others from afar, and give them
    the minimum wage help they need to clean up after…and voila, you
    have all the needed labor ingredients for VC. Also, take a look at
    who the VC’s are funding. Do you really think those kids who didnt
    get to Calculus in High School really matter in this equation? Do
    you think the Junior College cadres or the Cal State Wherever
    people get a significant percentage of those funds? Come on. 3-4
    Universities in California really supply the bulk of the talent,
    and/or the immigrants from India/China. They really dont need
    remedial students involved. And now, more and more, the very
    condition of VC funding that the “build phase” of any plan takes
    place in a competitive environment. The fate of Malibu and Beverly
    Hills are irrelevant here. These are not “working” communities.
    They are filled with people who are beyond collecting a paycheck.
    And, if you grow up in those communities, you’ll find that their
    schools are funded quite fine. And about the concept of “Adequate
    Funds”. As people in the Chicago Unified school district, as they
    spend over $17,000 just to transport Special Needs children to
    school (each), if funding is adequate. People are incensed at the
    increased costs, and many do believe we’ve interpreted “adequate”
    too far. We should cap any spending beyond a reasonable point for
    any individual, in healthcare, or education. No one of us is worth
    that much more than the others, and we need to re-prioritize to
    spend better on the masses. Look, virtually every constitution in
    the world states that all their citizenry are “equal”. Seriously,
    nearly all. We all know that’s BS. To state that the maxims of govt
    are hypocritical is pretty flimsy in terms of real criticism. We
    promised an “adequate” education…we can debate what that means
    till the sun rises. But, we do know a few things…get ready for
    more cuts. Bottom line, parents must take more responsibility over
    their own family. Dont count on the state to take care of grandma,
    or your autistic daughter…

  5. stanley seigler January 11, 2011 at 20:04 #

    to icarus:

    before i waste time discussing specifics further, pls advise if you are serious or just busting my whatever…

    if serious you confirm this is a sick society…ITS christian (any religion’s) compassion will return DD folks to the good old days of good old cheap snake pits…tho, ovens would better fit ITS (lie, tell em you gonna fund and dont) economic plan…promise them a FAPE while leading em to the ovens of benign neglect.

    OTOH;

    “Some people see things and say, Why? But I dream things that never were and say, why not?” (G.B. Shaw used often by RFK)

    icarus say] Dont count on the state to take care of grandma, or your autistic daughter…

    i dont! i will not leave her to “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”…ie, a sick society epitomized by your comments…

    to LBRB owner:

    housekeeping. advise if it’S me and my computer or LBRB that determines the posts’ format on site. on my computer LBRB site, there are no paragraphs in my recent post to LBRB…in any event pls delete my posts:

    stanley seigler January 11th, 2011 05:12:48
    and
    stanley seigler Your comment is awaiting moderation. January 11th, 2011 04:19:48

    i will repost in hopefully better format…

    stanley seigler

  6. Icarus January 11, 2011 at 21:12 #

    Stanley,

    Cant really understand (or really care) about your comments about Christianity. I dont really care what religion a person is.

    The question before us has to do with the reality of social services in a nation. They are slowly being destroyed, and that is the reality.

    As well, I’d argue, the hold of “Nation” is slowly fracturing too. People in California just dont care about people in Michigan anymore. People in Beverly Hills dont care about people in the barrio.

    We are held together less by the hold of being a united “people”, and instead through simple economic transactions.

    We are slowly moving towards a society where you simply get the services you can afford…and if you cant’, tough.

  7. stanley seigler January 11, 2011 at 23:09 #

    Guess you are serious soo…

    Icarus say RE:

    RE: I dont really care what religion a person is.

    Neither do I my comments address their and other hypocrites who profess to care then use comments/arguments similar to yours to deny funding, but approve funding unnecessary wars, bailouts, useless defense programs , etc.

    RE: They are slowly being destroyed, and that is the reality.

    a sick reality…thanks to a hypocritical society…ie those who profess to care…but don’t give a damn…those whose priorities are cheaper hummer plates (in CA) to quality programs for special needs folks…eg, those who mouth yo rhetoric.

    RE: We are slowly moving towards a society where you simply get the services you can afford…and if you cant, tough.

    tough, again thanks to a hypocritical society that doesn’t give a damn…do you?

    programs cuts are not necessary…and taxes do not destroy an economy: bureaucracy, cronyism, chicken-s leadership and greedy people/voters do…in sum, all the things we are today…

    RE: Mike Stanton…I cant really follow your writing all that clearly

    seems your are addressing stanley seigler vice mike stanton…I am much less clear than mike stanton…anyhow it is the assumption I make in responding.

    RE: No one should really care about tax rates in the 1950’s, the so called ‘good old days’. It was such a different world.

    All should care lest history repeats…ie, back to the snake spits…or euphemistically best of all worlds “campuses”.

    RE: Actually, California’s “high tech” economy could survive quite well with our brightest students (just give them UCLA, Berkeley, and Stanford grads), H1b immigrants, and low cost “help”.

    Actually the majority of california disagrees…all USA and CA tax and spend, bleeding heart legs were re-elected or elected.

    RE: They dont really need the booming middle class

    Get serious, the booming middle class made this great country…the capitalistic robber barons would have destroyed it if not for the unions and middle class.

    RE: 3-4 Universities in California really supply the bulk of the talent,

    Strongly disagree…only opine don’t have data…do you?

    RE: The fate of Malibu and Beverly Hills are irrelevant

    Au contria, these are the people who control some of the global capital (all the gold in CA is in a bank in downtown BH)…those you say move out of hi-tax states…why are the not moving out of CA

    RE: People are incensed at the increased costs, and many do believe we’ve interpreted “adequate” too far.

    These are the greedy, lip service, hypocrites…who pass legislation they never intended to fund adequately. (action louder than words)

    RE: We should cap any spending beyond a reasonable point for any individual, in healthcare, or education.

    And if a liver transplant needed…and they are capped…just let em die…if ABA needed and they are capped…put them in an institution.

    I have no objection…just admit we are a sick greedy society…stop hypocritically mouthing we are a compassion, caring, family values, christian, society.

    RE: To state that the maxims of govt are hypocritical is pretty flimsy in terms of real criticism.

    Perhaps flimsy…also factual…we (in USA) are NOT a family values, compassionate, christian (whatever) society…as shown by icraus’ comments and society’s action

    RE: Dont count on the state to take care of grandma, or your autistic daughter…

    As mentioned: I don’t…will not leave my daughter to “the slings and arrows of an outrageous society”

    you should consider NOT dismissing all comments disagreeing with your opines…most all history is relevant…it why we study IT.

    stanley seigler

  8. Mike Stanton January 11, 2011 at 23:37 #

    Icarus,
    your reply to me had nothing to do with the points I raised. I will try again.

    The average cost of a special ed student’s education is not 5x but twice the figure for a student without special needs.

    This proportion has been roughly the same for the last 20 years.

    There are children who cost a lot more than this but they are a tiny minority (half of one percent of the school population) and their numbers are stable.

    The increase in special needs students occurred in the years 1980 to 1999 (From 10 per cent to 13 per cent) It was an increase in low cost students with developmental difficulties.

    Since 2000 there has been virtually no increase in pupils with special educational needs. If anything there is a slight downward trend.

    Federal government only funds 10 per cent of the cost of special education. It initially promised to fund up to 40 per cent.

    Those facts do not suggest to me a system spiralling put of control.

    The broader discussion about changes to the global economy is interesting but has no bearing on your original thesis that special education is to blame for the budget crisis in many school districts. It is my contention that your argument is not supported by the facts.

  9. stanley seigler January 12, 2011 at 00:09 #

    [Mike Stanton say] The average cost of a special ed student’s education is not 5x but twice the figure for a student without special needs.

    guess one has to make this argument…but my opine: it’s irrelevant. the issue is funding sp ed…NOT comparing cost.

    the don’t care, religious, hypocrites are very good at changing/confusing the issues.

    in my lifetime it started in the 60s when they planted the racism seed lil black boys were going to rape all the lil white girls if schools were integrated.

    before my life time…FDR’s social security would bankrupt USA…

    they have done much to divide out country…surely there is a reserved seat on the firey pit’s bottom ring for the hypocrites.

    stanley seigler

  10. Icarus January 12, 2011 at 00:15 #

    Mike Stanton,

    Thank you for your post.

    Would you do 1 thing?…do a google search on Special Education and School Budgets…you’ll see a plethora of articles on what special education costs are doing to various school budgets, around the nation.

    I’m looking for an average cost for an Autism student…but, this is a bit difficult, as there is a sliding scale in severity of autism, with some students needing quite a bit of (costly) special instruction, and some doing just fine in normal classes. It’s not so easy to get data which accounts for both, and splits them up.

    But, we do know as a % of budget, what some districts are spending, and the numerous articles spell it out by individual school district.

    Part of the problem, as well, is that we now diagnose so many more children…1/50 boys have Autism I’ve read…and the %’s only increasing.

    Schools have a perverse problem as well, providing excellent care – it will attract more special needs children, which again exacerbate the cost burden. It’s a sad reality, as any parent would rightfully want to send children to schools with better services…but, it leads to a cost spiral which isnt currently funded.

  11. Mike Stanton January 12, 2011 at 00:28 #

    Icarus
    I already did my google search. If you have figures that contradict mine quote them and their source as I have done.

  12. Icarus January 12, 2011 at 00:33 #

    Stanley,

    There are many who think a great society is one with an ethic of Social Democracy, and a strong safety net. I presume you are one, since any thought of cutting funding is immediately a “the rich are greedy” type of retort. Am I off? You believe in a market economy, with highly progressive tax rates, for both individuals and corporations, and those taxes should pay for the minimum welfare of all?

    There are others who embrace a more neo-liberal model, the implication being a given community must live within its own means, and not count on the distribution of rich people’s taxes. That we only really should fund basic things collectively, like Infrastructure, Defense, and a few other things, and leave the rest to civil society.

    This later model, perhaps seemingly cold and market driven, disconnects us fundamentally. We no longer start to think of “nation” or “community” all that deeply, we lose a sense of collective history or purpose, and simply “take care of my own”. In this way of thinking, government should be tiny, and only ensure the rules, and tax us the least possible.

    Regardless of which model you lean towards, the geopolitical reality is that Social Democracy is less and less tenable under our new Global Economy. This is why Globalization is important. The very taxes a society collects depends upon it being hospitable to Capital.

    The reason I said that the US Middle Class is irrelevant moving forward, is that all those jobs can be done elsewhere, more efficiently. Over time, we will see this happen. We don’t need a thriving US middle class anymore, not with Chinese Imports, Indian offshore services, and a wealthy class within the US living in hermetically sealed communities (gated) away from the working class.

    We will have only service jobs for the Middle Class, as anything offshore-able will be. Entire Business Processes are now being vivisected from US corporations, and moving overseas. That’s why job growth in the US is nil, and it’s booming elsewhere. (just look at the stock price of companies who do this offshoring work – Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, IBM, Accenture, TCS).

    We can have a 3rd world arise in the 1st world, just as a 1st world is arising in the 3rd. Yes, it will be more of a police state, with even more prisons. But, we will have cheaper services, as the cost of labor plummets. Massages for $25/hour…haircuts for $5 again, etc, etc. We may even have street food in cities, as people have to work. Many US cities will adapt 3rd world models…walk through Kuala Lumpur, and you’ll see stalls everywhere. Why? Because people can’t wait for a government check, and must go work…no company will hire you with your skills, so go make a bowl of noodles for someone, or fix a shoe, or do something.

    I agree with you…stating a society is “Christian” (or Religion X), and “Compassionate” and full of “Family Values” is like reading the brochure for a Multinational Company. They’re virtually all full of shit, as they’re Green, Employee friendly, ethical, driving innovation, blah blah blah. The very system requires that hypocrisy. A nation cant state it is an Oligarchy masquerading as a Democracy, with an official form of corruption through lobbying, and a Citizenry at large which is lazy, obese, and globally ignorant. No one can talk like that, despite the truth.

  13. Icarus January 12, 2011 at 00:40 #

    An article stating the State of Hawaii’s costs – $25,000 per student, as opposed to $9,600 for regular students.

    Of course, we must then add Transportation, which will take it into the mid/high $30,000’s.

    And of course, the big issue is the increase in numbers the past 3-4 years.

    http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/Special-education_costs_rise_and_so_do_questions.html

  14. Icarus January 12, 2011 at 00:49 #

    Mike,

    I agree, the average costs are 2.5x + transportation costs, as far as I can find. And this includes all special education children. Of course, that includes more inexpensive treatments too.

    What gets the press is the very expensive cases. And it does beg the question of what do we do?

    I know I know…you all think we should all just pony up the costs, because it’s the “right thing to do” caus all kids deserve an education, free healthcare, and all sorts of other costs. Once we can rise above this sense of self entitlement, we can start discussing how to really move forward in an era of reduced budgets and increased social needs.

  15. Sullivan January 12, 2011 at 01:00 #

    Icarus,

    how do you know that the transportation costs are not included in the figures you cite? The Hawaii article doesn’t discuss this.

    In my experience, reported numbers include transportation plus administration plus legal fees. The legal fees reported in the article from Hawaii seem low to me. I know of single districts which spend $1M a year. I’ve seen cases where the districts spent tens of thousands of dollars–or more–to fight a case they could have settled for a few thousand.

    • Sullivan January 12, 2011 at 01:15 #

      According to the news story Icarus links to, special ed costs in Hawaii are going up–but at a notably slower rate than regular education funding:

      Spending on special education accounts for about 20 percent of the Education Department’s budget and has increased by nearly 40 percent, or $145 million, since 2004. During the same period, overall education spending has increased by 56 percent, or $900 million, to $2.5 billion a year.

      If Hawaii was spending less than $5,000 per student per year in 2004 (which appears to be the case), is it any wonder that they didn’t have the special needs classes required to handle the students they have, leading to more private placements?

  16. stanley seigler January 12, 2011 at 01:05 #

    icarus say] They’re virtually all full of shit

    certainly agree…but more importantly they profess compassion and practice hypocrisy…sped can be funded adequately, just as wars, bailouts and rich folks/corporation tax breaks are funded…if we cared …do you?…

    your rhetoric indicates you prefer funding/defending unnecessary wars, etc…and deny funding sped, etc.

    its about priorities. NOT ability to fund.

    stanley seigler

  17. Icarus January 12, 2011 at 14:41 #

    Stanley,

    It is both about priorities, and the ability not to fund. They are not mutually exclusive.

    I would not only stop spending on these ridiculous wars, but I would handcuff many of our leaders (including our present one), and have then tried at the War Tribunal at the Hague for crimes against Humanity. Our leaders kill hundreds of thousands, and we sit silently. Shameful.

    I would also cut Healthcare significantly. I’m open to a govt sponsored system of Healthcare which is very inexpensive ($50/month), which only covers basic healthcare (immunization, prenatal care, basic primary care, broken bones, etc). This insurance must be mandatory and applies to all citizenry. We use Payroll taxes, or a work-fare program to fund it (anyone can clean up streets for 5 hours/week). Above and beyond this, people need to obtain private insurance. So yes, if the poor need an expensive procedure, they have to have some form of insurance to cover it, not given by the State.

    I would alter education tremendously. I dont think throwing money at this problem really helps, as we spend quite an amount already. I would employ a charter school model to break the teacher’s union, alter pension expectations (no more retirement after 25 years), and cap spending on any particular student. In general, my libertarian impulse takes over. I think Parents have to be responsible for the costs of their child’s education, and our “free public K-12 education” amounts to a welfare program we have to get off of. Cap public spending at an amount – say $8000/year, per student. Costs beyond that are the responsibility of the Parent(s).

    In general, I would try and move away from a strong Social Service model, and lean towards a libertarian policy.

    Also, for things like Special Education, I would interpret the child’s needs as “healthcare” learning needs, and not normal Education needs. We would expect insurance to cover those costs, and expect Parents to pay for those insurance premiums.

    I know, I know…what about the poor?

  18. stanley seigler January 12, 2011 at 15:09 #

    [NOTE: This was originally posted January 11th, 2011
    04:19:48, so is out of order as to comments] dont think anyone is
    saying there will NOT be cuts…and perhaps no one on LBRB is
    scapegoating special ed…as is icarus and and his ilk… my
    heartburn is the hypocrisy…legislation is written promising
    special needs children a FAPE…then never fully funded (now we are
    cutting)…are we playing a cruel…we were just kidding…joke on
    our children… it’s not about sped costing more…it’s about
    funding sped…providing programs to meet the needs of our children
    and neighbors. funds are available to fight wars we were lied into;
    wall street bailouts; and trillions in tax breaks to rich
    folks…but not available to fully fund IDEA. stop BS-ing
    ourselves…fund or admit we don’t give a damn. “The test of our
    progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who
    have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have
    little. ” FDR we fail the test miserably icarus say RE: RE:
    Consumption is the American ethic, is it not? We enjoy our
    consumption, to a fault. Some ethic…right up there with ethics of
    greed. RE: We may even think it [consumption] stimulates the
    economy, and helps the US auto industry, hence protecting
    sacrosanct middle class jobs. And most of the stimulation comes
    from middle class spending…the top 1% always have money to
    spend…there is no data (I find, help!) to show tax cuts to rich
    folks significantly stimulates the economy…and it doesn’t seem
    logical that it would. its part of the myth free market ideologues
    perpetuate…say it enough and no one questions and you believe it
    the face of contrary facts…boy was the economy ever stimulated by
    W’s tax cuts…stimulated to jump off a cliff. of course the tax
    cuts will spur investments and funds will trickle down to
    social/educational programs (be careful that trickle may not be
    rain water on your leg)… RE: The wealthy really are the only ones
    paying significant income tax. The bottom 50% pay 0 federal income
    tax, and the top 1% pay almost 35% of it Which is as it should
    be…the amount they pay is insignificant to them … the mite paid
    by the widow is most significant…critical to her…oh/and; How
    did the wealthy create jobs in the 1950’s when the top tax rate was
    90%?…How about the 60’s and 70’s when the top tax rate was around
    70%? How did the rich survive in the socialist state that was
    America back then?
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101213081610AAWO4pZ
    RE: “Tax Breaks” to corporations are a bit trickier. Global Capital
    is more mobile than ever capital is very tricky (global or
    otherwise)…we saw tricks WS did with sub prime mortgages and
    short sales of bundled mortgages (triple A rated bonds)…so tricky
    RE: sweet deals to keep employment up in their respective
    geographies. This is the fate of states and municipalities in the
    context of mobile global capital. “We sometimes forget that we
    compete for people, not companies. The chamber types who brood
    about our [CA] loss of low-cost jobs to low-cost communities, have
    to explain why we still get one out of every two dollars of venture
    capital in the United States, and Texas [a no tax state] gets one
    out of 20.” http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DDRIGHTS/message/6423 RE:
    certain ‘truths’ seem clear…Your territory better be hospitable
    to Capital, or it will leave, clear to you…Repeat: We sometimes
    forget that we compete for people, not companies. The chamber types
    who brood about our [CA] loss of low-cost jobs to low-cost
    communities, have to explain why we still get one out of every two
    dollars of venture capital in the United States, and Texas [a no
    tax state] gets one out of 20. RE: Your Labor Force better be
    competitive. Every industry needs an educational system that
    graduates students who can read, write and excel. And this why its
    dumb to cut funding to education. RE: The Wealthy are more mobile
    than the Poor. If you simply try and raise taxes on the wealthy,
    they tend to leave. There are 0 income tax states… Repeat:
    explain why we [CA] still get one out of every two dollars of
    venture capital in the United States, and Texas [a no tax state]
    gets one out of 20.” “We [CA] are [is] not a low-cost area, and you
    can’t make us one, Trying to do so, by cutting services to the bone
    to turn California into a low-tax state, places at risk the
    features that make California attractive to other industries and
    workers, such as high-tech… world-class higher education,
    transportation, clean air and clean water.” [ditto USA, my opine]
    CA is a high tax state…I haven’t noticed any for sale signs in
    beverly hills or malibu. a test of the myth that the economy is
    best under GOP administrations: Under which president, since WW2
    produced: 1. The largest growth in gross domestic product? 2. The
    largest growth in jobs? 3. The biggest increase in personal
    disposable income after taxes? 4. The largest growth in industrial
    production? 5. The biggest rise in hourly wages? 6. The lowest
    Misery Index (inflation plus unemployment)? 7. The lowest
    inflation? 8. The largest reduction in the deficit? 9. During the
    20th century, the Dow Jones industrial average rose on the average
    how much a year under Republican presidents? 10. During the 20th
    century, the Dow Jones industrial average rose on the average how
    much a year under Democratic presidents? Answers: 1) Truman 2)
    Carter 3) Johnson 4) Kennedy 5) Johnson 6) Truman 7) Truman 8)
    Clinton 9) 7.3% 10) 10.3% Note the difference in the increase under
    Democrats and Republicans amounts to 41% increase in net worth to
    investors. Moreover, since World War II, the national debt
    increased on average by 3.7% a year under Democratic
    administrations, compared with 9.1% when Republicans occupied the
    Oval Office. During the same period, Democratic presidents oversaw
    on average an unemployment rate of 4.8%. For Republicans, it was
    6.3%. RE: The European concept of Social Democracy is fracturing in
    front of us, And WITH TAX CUTS TO THE RICH the free market did so
    well from 2001-08 “Brown [CA gov moonbeam] also needs to help the
    voters understand the distinction between government expenses and
    government investment. The latter includes reforming and adequately
    funding the public schools and higher education [and special ed and
    regional centers], which have been getting shortchanged in money
    and policy.” stanley seigler ps. full disclosure: most of the above
    comments are quotes from that liberal rag, the LATimes.

  19. stanley seigler January 12, 2011 at 17:55 #

    RE: stanley seigler January 12th, 2011 15:09:29 post.

    this was the third time i tried to post this correctly fomated (paragraphed)… it is initially correct then the paragraphs disappear… i give up…if anyone interested…hope its not that difficult to read…

    any explanation as to problem appreciated…ie, my computer or LBRB site? (issjr@aol.com)

    stanley seigler

  20. stanley seigler January 12, 2011 at 19:24 #

    icarus say] It is both about priorities, and the ability not to fund. They are not mutually exclusive, etc, etc…

    For sure we have different political views and are discussing politics more than, I believe, intended by LBRB.

    libertarian, free market, capitalistic, socialistic, theological, democracies…and even communism may work well in theory. None are perfect in practice…

    My opine: there are areas where capitalism works well and others not so well…eg, healthcare and education.

    [quote] Both countries (USA and Canada), however, score low on health measures compared with other industrialized nations. In the Commonwealth Fund’s overall ranking of health system performance, Canada came in fifth and the U.S. came in sixth, out of six countries. On the other hand, the WHO’s 2000 World Health Report gave Canada a slightly better review, ranking it 30th for overall health system performance – above three of the other countries from the Commonwealth study (Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.) but below the other two (the U.K. and Germany). All of these countries, except the U.S., have publicly funded health care, as does every major country in the WHO’s top ten. [unquote]

    Enjoyed the discussion…but will stop for now…you can have the last word.

    stanley

    Ps. youre wrong about whatever:)…apologies for any ad homs.

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