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Social Impact Bonds and Special Education

Sunday, October 18, 2015 10:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Special education advocate Bev Johns has written here warning about the impact of Social Impact Bonds on special education services.

What are Social Impact Bonds (SIBs)?

They have become a favorite privatization tool of corporate Democrats and others.

Wall Street loves them.

Also known as Pay for Success programs in which Wall Street investors, often using funding from private philanthropies, invest in social programs which once were funded directly by the government. The aim is to reduce government costs by offering profits to Wall Street.

The profit increases for investors when schools reduce the number of students who receive special education services:

When it comes to special education programs and SIBs, success is quantified by counting how many special needs students are moved out of the programs and how many have services removed or denied.

It is just the opposite of what we have fought in favor of for decades. For those of us who have taught Special Needs students, either as general education teachers, special subject teachers or special education teachers, we look at success as meaning accurately identifying the needs of individual students, providing evidence for those needs, and getting service and support to those students. We never considered that if we determined there was a continuing need to provide services to a student it meant we failed.

We don’t look at special education students in the aggregate. That is the opposite of the essence of the IEP, the Individualized Educational Program.

To make matters worse, SIBS have been included in the reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB.

The Senate reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (ESEA) includes an amendment by Senator Orrin Hatch that rewards investors in bonds if schools reduce special education enrollments.

We need to let every national organization that we belong to know that we oppose the concept of paying Goldman Sachs and other investors for every child that avoids special education (what Sen. Hatch calls Pay-for-Success).

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Professionals in Learning Disabilities and Special Education is a not-for-profit organization offering continuing education programs to inform members of current instructional practices, assessment, and policy issues in the field of learning disabilities.  PLD/SE also offers a referral service to the community, providing qualified professionals for diagnostics and remediation.  PLD/SE provides programs as a service to its members.  PLD/SE does not endorse any specific program, speaker, instructional materials, method, treatment, or evaluation center for children with disabilities.  

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