A title that says “Special Education Finance Reform A New Path Toward Equity & Adequacy” in white text on a blue background. The MiPAAC circle logo Is to the left on the title. The full MiPAAC logo and a “powered by” Autism Alliance of Michigan logo are below the title.

Special Education Finance Reform: A New Path Toward Equity & Adequacy

Autism Alliance of Michigan drives new path toward equity & advocacy in special education finance reform

In March 2024, the Autism Alliance of Michigan made a public call for Special Education Finance Reform

Look for our working paper – coming soon!

A New Path Toward Equity and Advocacy

The Autism Alliance of Michigan has been engaging with national experts on school finance and special education to look toward a broader vision of system transformation with the aim of increasing high-quality, inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities as well as improving educational outcomes (which is desperately needed in our state). This work will align efforts toward re-imagining how our system serves kids with disabilities PreK through post-secondary.

Michigan systematically fails students with disabilities.

Outcomes of students with disabilities in Michigan are unacceptably low –

  • poor proficiency rates in reading & math, extremely low graduation rates, overuse of alternate assessments, poor inclusion rates, overuse of exclusionary discipline tactics

Michigan’s current reimbursement rate for special education costs is the lowest in the nation of states using a similar funding method.

Michigan spends roughly $4 billion on special education across multiple sources (Federal, State, ISD/RESAs, LEA general fund).

    • Simply closing the “shortfall gap” does not mean “fully funding” special education.
    • Current approach assumes amount spent by districts (reimbursement) is providing adequate & appropriate (effective) supports for meeting the needs of disabled students. This has not shown to be true based on performance outcomes or in family experiences.
There are structural problems with how Michigan funds special education.

Current efforts to address special education funding have been marginal improvements on past practices, but are minimal, and will not raise Michigan’s students with disabilities from the bottom rung of performance outcomes compared to other states.

Michigan students need comprehensive special education finance reform.
  • Research and analysis need to be done to determine a special education funding formula that will drive resources to where they are needed most.
  • The current status quo of the system is unacceptable.
  • We must focus on the needs of students.

1 thought on “Special Education Finance Reform: A New Path Toward Equity & Adequacy”

  1. Crystal Lewis

    My boy was failed by the school district of west branch, mi to where they made it impossible for him to progress, and he actually was so distraught in trauma he resulted in regression in smear/rolling in feces in which he has not done since infancy.

    I am a concerned mother, a professional in the field seeing where iliur school system lacks as our children fall in the cracks resulting in becoming a victim of the system as I can test through my own struggles and background I masked for as long as I could in school due to the discrimination and stimia, was not diagnosed ADHD until I was an adult in my 30’s, and have been struggling since, please save our children from the system or feeling a burden to society, need more austim and behavioral training in the school districts.

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