Education leaders across Michigan are increasingly sounding an alarm over the way the state funds special education.

A report from the lieutenant governor’s office last week blasted current the state’s current funding formula for shortchanging schools by almost $700 million a year. And a coalition of powerful Detroit leaders said it would make lobbying for changes to special education funding one of its top priorities as it tries to improve education for Detroit kids.

Currently, schools are required to provide students with special services and therapies but are only funded for a fraction of their expenses.

It’s a problem that’s felt sharply in large cities like Detroit where 18 percent of students enrolled in the city’s main school district have diagnoses that entitle them to extra support. (In contrast, just 9 percent of charter school students in Wayne County have special ed diagnoses).

A new report from Michigan State University Professor Sarah Reckhow and Craig Thiel from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a public policy research organization, looks at why the current structure for funding students who are disabled and have special needs in Michigan may derail the comeback of Detroit’s main district, and how it handicaps all schools in the state. 

Read it here: