Virginia Struggles To Improve Services For Disabled Students | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Virginia Struggles To Improve Services For Disabled Students

Play associated audio
Rates of children with autism are on the rise in the commonwealth, but funds to educate them may soon dwindle.
Travis Ekmark: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sayholatotravis/3796435103/
Rates of children with autism are on the rise in the commonwealth, but funds to educate them may soon dwindle.

With nearly 163,000 students with disabilities in Virginia's public education system, the commonwealth is looking at how services can be improved, while also becoming more efficient in the midst of budget constraints.

The number of students labeled as disabled has declined, as educators learned to identify those with merely reading or math problems. Even so, assistant superintendent of special education John Eisenberg says that for the past six years, school have added an additional 1,000 students a year with autism spectrum disorders.

"There has been a 495 percent increase in the number of students with autism," says Eisenberg. "It is exploding across the commonwealth, and it has been a major emphasis that we've had at the department to really reorganize ourselves and prepare these students for better post-school outcomes."

Last year, $1.6 billion in state and local funds were spent on special ed, but the schools also spent $360 million in federal funds and Eisenberg said that could soon decline.

"We are very concerned with the discussions that are going on at the federal level about sequestriation," says Eisenberg. "There has potential impacts of 10 to 20 percent cuts across the board."

There's also a shortage of speech, physical and occupational therapists. The state is now requiring training of paraprofessionals to help out in the classroom.

NPR

Wounded Bull-Runner: 'If You Run Long Enough, You Get Gored'

Bill Hillmann, a writer from Chicago, contributed to the book Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona. He was gored at this year's running of the bulls in that city, but says he plans to return.
NPR

What If The World Cup Were Awarded For Saving Trees And Drinking Soda?

We thought you'd get a kick out of seeing how the four teams in the final World Cup matches stack up in global health and development.
NPR

Congress' Latest Death Match Involves A Bank You've Never Heard Of

The business lobby is pushing hard for the survival of the Export-Import Bank, which has supported U.S. exports for 80 years. Some House GOP leaders, though, think it's time to kill the bank.
NPR

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.