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Commentary: Public Schools Face Dramatic Rise in Student Misbehavior

Commentary by Joe Herring originally published by RealClearEducation and RealClearWire

Reports of student misbehavior have risen sharply in public schools, as districts also report widespread “stunted” social development among students.

Yet special education resources may not be able to cope with the subsequent rise in students with special needs.

The annual “School Pulse Panel,” a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES), revealed some troubling trends:

*More than 80% of public schools reported “stunted behavioral and socioemotional development” among students because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
*Schools also saw a 56% increase in “classroom disruptions from student misconduct” and a 49% increase in “rowdiness outside of the classroom.”
*Seven in 10 public schools reported increases in students seeking mental health services since the start of the pandemic.

Many of the problems reported in the survey were preexisting, even if exacerbated by pandemic policies. For example, the demand for social and mental health services was already trending upward well before COVID-19.

Data reveal struggling students are increasingly turning to special education professionals following a return to in-person classes.

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

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, each special needs student must have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). IEP teams are comprised of therapists and psychologists, as well as teachers and administrators.

However, as schools struggle to find these professionals and more students request special education services, the pre-existing deficit between students and resources increases, leaving more would-be special education students without federally mandated care and placing schools and districts in legal jeopardy.

IES data reveals roughly 60% of public schools already lack enough professional staff to meet their school’s need for mental health and behavioral intervention services.

If resources are tapped, students for whom special education services are essential will be harmed by the resulting diminishment of services.

This strain on special education raises the question of whether the use of limited special education resources is appropriate for students whose difficulties don’t necessarily impair their learning long term, but rather are more indicative of an episodic struggle.

However, parents in states that offer school choice programs may qualify for scholarships that can be used for special education tutoring or even enrollment in a private school.
Commentary by Joe Herring – This article was originally published by RealClearEducation and made available via RealClearWire.

Deneen Borelli

Deneen Borelli is the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. Deneen is a contributor with Newsmax Broadcasting. She is a former Fox News contributor and has appeared regularly on “Hannity,” “Fox & Friends,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” and “America’s Newsroom.” She has also appeared on Fox Business Network programs “Making Money with Charles Payne,” “The Evening Edit with Liz MacDonald,” and “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.” Previously, Deneen appeared on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC and C-SPAN. In addition to television, Deneen co-hosted radio programs on the SiriusXM Patriot channel with her husband Tom. Recently, Deneen co-hosted the Reigniting Liberty podcast with Tom. Deneen is a frequent speaker at political events, including the FreedomWorks 9.12.2009 March on D.C. which drew a crowd estimated at over 800,000 people. Deneen is also an Ambassador with, a social media platform that promotes free speech, and with the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) which advances policies that put Americans first. Deneen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in May 2011 and before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in December 2011. Previously, Deneen was a host, Outreach Director with overseeing its outreach program, a Project 21 Senior Fellow, and Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Prior to joining CORE, Deneen worked at Philip Morris USA for 20 years. During her corporate career at Philip Morris she worked in various positions, her last as Project Management Coordinator in the Information Management department where she was responsible for the department’s mandated quality processes, communications, sales information and database management. Deneen began her Philip Morris career as a secretary and advanced to positions of increasing responsibilities. Deneen worked full-time and attended classes at night for 11 years to earn her B.A. in Managerial Marketing from Pace University, New York City. Deneen served on the Board of Trustees with The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York. She appeared in educational videos for children, worked as a runway fashion model, and auditioned for television commercials. Her interests include ancient history, pistol target shooting, photography, and volunteering at her church. Deneen currently resides in Connecticut with her husband Tom.

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