Public schools are facing a dramatic increase in student misconduct

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By Joe Herring for RealClearEducation

Reports of student misconduct have surged in public schools as districts also report widespread “impeded” social development among students.

Yet special education resources may not be able to handle the subsequent increase in special needs students.

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The annual “School Pulse panel”, a study conducted by the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) of the US Department of Education revealed some troubling trends:

  • More than 80% of public schools reported “impaired behavioral and social-emotional development” among students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Schools also saw a 56% increase in “classroom disruptions due to student misconduct” and a 49% increase in “out-of-class rowdyness”.
  • Seven in 10 public schools reported an increase in the number of students seeking mental health care since the start of the pandemic.
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Many of the problems reported in the survey already existed, even as they were exacerbated by pandemic policies. For example, demand for social and mental health care has been on the rise long before COVID-19.

Data shows that struggling students are increasingly turning to special education professionals after returning to in-person classes.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports more than seven million children in America receive special education, about 15% of children in grades K-12. This caseload predates the pandemic and represents a level of need that is already straining district budgets.

According to the Persons with Disabilities Education Act, every student with special needs must have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). IEP teams are made up of therapists and psychologists, as well as educators and administrators.

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However, as schools struggle to find these professionals and more students apply for special education services, the pre-existing gap between students and resources increases, leaving more prospective special education students without federally mandated care and putting schools and districts in legal jeopardy. come.

IES data shows that about 60% of public schools already do not have enough professional staff to meet their school’s needs for mental health services and behavioral intervention.

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If resources are tapped, students for whom special educational services are essential will be disadvantaged by the resulting reduction in services.

This pressure on special education raises the question of whether the use of limited special education resources is appropriate for students whose difficulties do not necessarily hinder their long-term learning, but rather are indicative of occasional struggle.

However, parents in states that offer school choice programs may be eligible for scholarships that can be used for special education tutoring or even enrolling in a private school.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

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