In the current economic climate, it is easy to assume that schools are sacrificing everything but the kitchen sink, and the lives of special needs students are no exception.
According to CBC news, a Winnipeg School Division cut $900,000 from the special needs budget. The money was to be spent on educational assistants for the classroom.
While officials say that there are fewer cases of special needs children, critics propose that the school boards are denying applications of individuals that would have been accepted in previous years. The Winnipeg School Division approved a tax increase of 7.8 percent, saying the increase is inevitable with increased enrollment. But in order to get this budget balance, the special needs funding must be cut.
In addition to budget cuts, some school districts limit the schools in which children with special needs may attend. Currently, many children are required to go to a school in a district in which they live. However, some current Wisconsin bills are attempting to create other options for children.
The bills would allow parents to move their children to another school district if they feel it would benefit the children academically. The bills would also create a scholarship, so that special needs children might be able to attend a private school, and the state and local districts would reimburse the school with the statewide average cost of education.
Critics of the bills state that parents have an option of open enrollment, but the creators of the bills pose the problem that over 40 percent of these children are denied entry, oftentimes because they are too expensive.
Both budget cuts and denying a child education from a particular school prevent a special needs child from being the best they can be. It is true that special education is expensive, and any parents, whether they have a special needs child or not, wants quality education for their children.
Some schools are putting unqualified supervisors and aides in the classroom, as budget cuts require an extensive cut in staff. Ultimately, these cuts are putting students at risk, which is why many parents support bills like the ones in Wisconsin; these parents want great education, and they believe the districts should cover some of the cost.
Photo by bestlibrarian