This past school year the school board of the system I work for* hired an independent auditor to do their job for them and figure out where they should cut the budget. Most of us lazy good for nothing central office folks were waiting for the report to come back saying that there were too many of us and they should start throwing us out in the streets. It was quite a surprise when they recommended large cuts in special education programs.
I agree! According to the article we have 14 percent of our kids in special ed programs and 22.6 percent of the employees working in those programs. I would bet most school systems in this country also have a large number of kids (and a big chunk of the budget) in special ed programs. In my classes it seemed that every other student had some kind of "learning disability" (or "emotional disability" if they were especially obnoxious).
If you think about it, though, everyone has a disability in learning one subject or another. In this corner of the world, however, most parents seem to think that their kids can take advanced classes in every single subject in the curriculum. And if they don’t get A’s in all of them then they must be LD and should get all kinds of help.
But despite how much sense the auditor’s suggestions make it will never happen. Too many parents of special ed kids around here also have high powered lawyers. Plus, NCLB is putting pressure on administrators to give special help to any kid who even smells like they might flunk the standardized tests. When the fact that this is an election year is added to the mix, you may as well forget that this report was ever written.
I think I know one other reason why the consulting firm hit on special ed for their suggested cuts. The company gets paid in part on the amount of savings they find for the system. What better way to get a large pay day than to recommend big reductions in the most expensive program in the county. I’m in the wrong end of education – I need to be a consultant.
* Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of the left column. I want to keep my job! :-)