The nonprofit journalism website EdSource describes in a recent in-depth article a fundamental and persistent – and, candidly, unsurprising – problem that persists in California’s vast K-12 educational system.
Namely, that is this: The school districts having the highest number of special-needs children with distinct and compelling learning needs have the fewest resources to respond properly.
Put another way: Districts that already have a notable surplus of resources generally also possess an inordinate amount of wealth they routinely apply to special education and related programs. Conversely, districts grappling with high populations of special needs students and a paucity of resources to assist them simply continue to fall further into a fiscal hole.
A multitude of diverse and concerned critics understandably lament that reality, which they say is long entrenched and must be reversed to avoid deep peril in the future.
What they underscore as a preeminent concern is directly addressed in a recent report authored by the state’s Department of Education. EdSource notes from the DOE’s research that “districts with the most low-income students have 25 percent more inexperienced and underqualified teachers … than districts with the lowest numbers of low-income children.”
Economic challenges are of course closely linked with the availability – or lack thereof – of special ed programs that are both needed by eligible students and, importantly, guaranteed to them by federal and state laws.
Commentators who duly note concerns also point to a potential upside linked with collected state data that will be made public next spring. They say that culled information regarding teachers in every school district spanning the state will be invaluable in identifying funding gaps and better ensuring that districts with outsized needs are more appropriately staffed.
Parents having questions or concerns about any issue linked with their child’s access to special education programs and opportunities can turn to proven legal counsel for candid guidance and diligent legal representation.