The Texas Special: Purge Students with Disabilities
Identifying students with a disability is not an exact science. Scholars have long-since documented both the over- and under-identification of certain demographic groups with certain disabilities. As Theresa Glennon argued in Race, Education and the Construction of a Disabled Class, educational disabilities can be a proxy for the perception that a student diverges from the cultural norm. Thus, year-to-year variances in the number of students identified as having a disability that affects educational opportunity are to be expect. Minor upward and downward shifts are not necessarily an indicator of negligence or ulterior motives.
With that said, the Houston Chronicle has made the case that the state of Texas has systematically reduced its special education population for no legitimate reason. This chart shows that the state's special education population has shrunk by more than 25% in the past decade. The numbers are even more drastic when the state is broken down by region. A number have seen their special education population shrink by a third. See here.
The reason, cites the Chronicle, is clear: the state mandated a cap on the number of students in special education.
Over a decade ago, the officials arbitrarily decided what percentage of students should get special education services — 8.5 percent — and since then they have forced school districts to comply by strictly auditing those serving too many kids.
Their efforts, which started in 2004 but have never been publicly announced or explained, have saved the Texas Education Agency billions of dollars but denied vital supports to children with autism, attention deficit Education Law Prof Blog: