The Corner

Politics & Policy

How the Americans with Disabilities Act Affects Colleges

If you ever need to show how laws can have unintended consequences, the Americans with Disabilities Act is as good as any. That big, gooey glob of feel-goodism has been messing up the country ever since Bush 41 signed it into law.

In today’s Martin Center article, Garland Tucker points out that it has had a big impact on our colleges and universities. An astonishing 21.9 percent of freshmen enter with some claimed disability now. Do we really have so many “disabled” students on our campuses? No — they are just gaming the system. It’s very easy to claim “disability” under the law and schools just tie themselves up in costly bureaucratic procedures if they contest such claims, so they hardly ever do.

What these crafty kids want are usually testing “accommodations” that give them an edge over classmates who haven’t declared themselves disabled. Tucker writes,

Thousands of these requests have resulted in colleges spending millions of dollars for special testing centers, extended exam periods, soundproof testing rooms, etc. The biggest rise in disability requests involves mental health issues. Many colleges are forced to provide “low-stress testing centers,” which allow students suffering from mental health problems to walk around during exams and even to bring “comfort animals” into exams.

Getting special treatment on tests is a crutch that these kids come to rely on, but to their eventual detriment.

The ADA, Tucker states, “makes no provision to weigh the marginal costs against the desired benefits. Instead, it mandates compliance, spending billions of taxpayers’ and tuition-payers’ dollars toward the unattainable, utopian goal of equal outcomes.”

He’s right. Too bad there is no prospect of repealing or even slightly amending this gigantic mistake.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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