Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 08:42PM
Merrill Hope

Nudge, push, shove into the Common Core

If we are learning anything about public education lately it is that there are desirable behaviors we seek to cultivate in our children.  In fairness, there have always been societal norms that keep a culture from fraying at the edges but never before has public education so mandated our kids' beliefs, actions, and choice of words as is happening with the Common Core.  Manipulating behaviors through back door education codes literally nudge, push, and shove them into those desired behaviors.  Or else.  And there is a powerful mechanism in place when a child resists or flies off the handle: the IEP, the individual education plan.

The purpose of the IEP is to provide FAPE (free appropriate public education) services for K-12 learning disabilities.  Special Education.  Also, it's the same tool schools, in more recent years, have used to manage the social, emotional, and mental welfare of a malleable population.  No doubt, the tragedy of mental illness is real and no laughing matter but this increasing emphasis on our children's mental health makes it harder to tell which disorders are even real anymore.

Case in point: the CDC, the Center for Disease Control (and Prevention) in Atlanta, Georgia, cites in the DMV-IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition), the gospel on brain disorders from the American Psychiatric Association, that 3-7% of school aged children in the USA have one particular emotional disturbance, ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), and those estimated percentages continue to escalate.  No kidding.

Think about this.  ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) didn't exist until a mental health crisis erupted like Mount Vesuvius in 1990's classrooms.  Coast-to-coast. Publicly educated children started squirming, twitching, spiraling out of control and acting out impulsively like never before?  Ritalin became the wonder drug of choice for this ailment until its Pez dispenser-like dissemination netted us a generation of prescription drug addicts, an uproar, and a few tragic unintended consequences.   Although we are quick to blame big pharma we must  also look at its partner-in-crime: the public education system, a division of the Department of Education, a government agency.

The US Department of Education reported that the number of school children on IEPs under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) provision jumped from under 20,000 in 1993 to almost 120,000 in 2002. Autism alone shot up more than 500 percent between 1996-2006 and during those years, approximately 68 percent of all federal expenditures for children were used for education and instruction-related services.  Wow.

California, a state that had its share of school district board members lobbying Sacramento pro-IEP, saw a 1000 percent increase of enrolled students diagnosed with autism K-12 between 1992-2004 according to the California Department of Education.  Statistics broke down 1997-2006 to show that state public school incidences of diagnosed autism more than quadrupled.  Heck, in 2005, these rates shot up 400 percent in my little suburban California town of 20,000 people.  In one year.  How is this humanly possible? 

NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) recorded 5,810,658, 12.8% of the US K-12 population, enrolled in an IEP for the school year 1999-2000.  By 2010, NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) showed alarming figures in the nation's report card: 88% of 4th graders assessed, all were placed on IEPs; 90% of 8th graders, and 81% of 12th graders.  We can only imagine the actual numbers of children this represents.  This was also the same year that California "Core" rolled out and state juvenile mental illness morphed into a cottage industry.

IEPs (Individual Education Plans) rake in big bucks for our financially strapped public school districts. The US Department of Education's 2006 budget included 11.1 billion federal tax dollars that went to public school IDEA programs.  Back in California, this year's 2012-13 budget accounted SELPA (Special Education Local Area Plan) dollars by county, pulling in a $174,094,500 and $87,047,250 of taxpayer money in two installments.  

That ain't no chump change. 

What about your state?


Merrill Hope writes for City on a Hill, Save America Foundation and has freelanced pieces on Lady Patriots.  Over the years she inked articles for the Hollywood Reporter and Backstage West. She's married, the mother of a teenager (God help her!) & a dachshund lover. Follow her at Merrill Hope @outoftheboxmom.  

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