It's an interesting concept that in some circumstances seems to generate positive results:
College attendance by people with intellectual disabilities has been shown to translate into better jobs with better pay and greater independence.
Last year, Concordia University in Northeast Portland said yes to Cody Sullivan, who had started working part-time as a preschool teacher while still in high school. He takes college courses on teaching methods with the rest of a cohort of undergraduates preparing to become teachers, making him the first person in Oregon with Down syndrome enrolled at a university.
And Portland State University is preparing to open an entire program next year that, starting with about five new undergraduates, will allow students with intellectual disabilities to get the coaching and support they need to go to college.
It seems that if they're motivated and engaged even people who were formerly simply written off can make great strides, which ultimately can yield greater independence and heightened self-sufficiency. In part, this is likely a result of mainstreaming developmentally disabled kids at an early age, whereas in the not-too-distant past, they were simply shuttled off to be warehoused in "special" facilities.
But Oregon has a long way to go:
A huge new study that followed 100,000 Oregon high school graduates to community college finds that 75 percent have to take non-credit remedial classes when they get there.
Poor academic readiness, not students' race or income, explained why they had to take high school- or middle school-level classes when they got to community college, according to the study, done for the national Institute of Education Sciences by Portland-based researcher Michelle Hodara.
It's not that Oregon schools need more money; history has shown that when they're given more money "For The Children™", very little of the cash actually makes it to the classroom level. Schools simply hire more administrators at six-figure salaries with generous benefits packages. Unless that changes, students will continue to be passed through to "graduation" while lacking in basic skills.