Years of efforts to improve graduation rates are paying off, that is, if you’re not a student with a disability. Nationwide, less than 65 percent of students with disabilities graduate on time. The graduation rate for those with disabilities is the lowest of the subgroups measured, with Native Americans at 70 percent having the lowest graduation rate for any ethnicity, and New Mexico, at 69 percent, having the lowest rate for any state.
Public schooling has gotten as much mileage as possible from IDEA. The law, wrapped in access and process but divorced from results, is past due for not a reauthorization but for an overhaul. Students with IEPs who do not graduate don’t leave school for a job; they don’t hang tough with others on the street; they don’t enter the school to prison pipeline. No, they stay home and fail to develop the independent living and job skills that help provide them a life after their parents die. That’s the reality.
The House vote to repeal Obama Care is an ominous threat to students in the deep end of the special education pool. Special education is a federal law and the federal government must step up and fulfill its promise made forty-two years ago to allow students with disabilities to not only attend public school but benefit from public school. This cannot be shoveled-off to states. It is a defined federal responsibility.