Friday, July 13, 2007
My colleague, Elizabeth Brown, brought this to my attention.
The USCCB did a study in Nov. 2002 on this issue. It can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/education/fedasst/ideafinal.pdf
The study found that only 6.83% of the students in Catholic Schools had disabilities compared with the 11.4% of students in public schools. In addition, 87% of the dioceses reported that they were unable to enroll children with disabilities because they lacked the capacity to meet their special needs.
The study did discuss some of the problems that parents and Catholic schools encountered when trying to get children enrolled in Catholic schools their share of IDEA funds.
I'm travelling right now, and have only a very creaky internet connection making it very difficult to access the USCCB report. While I do have much sympathy for the budget constraints under which all schools, including Catholic schools, operate, I just find some of these budgetary arguments for not accepting kids with disabilities by Catholic schools less than compelling. The lack of federal funding for the IDEA mandate that I discussed in my last post means that these same constraints affect public schools, as well. Public schools have a federal mandate to find some way to accommodate kids with disabilities, anyway. Catholic schools don't have that federal mandate, it's true, but it seems to me they do operate under the mandate of an even higher authority. That authority tells us we parents are responsible for raising all the children we are given, no matter what sorts of disability they might have. Why doesn't that authority give the same message of joint responsibility to our parish communities?