Letter published in the Boston Globe, 17 April, 2000

Special ed budgets don't hurt regular ed budgets

Had I not become, through a quirk of fate, a parent of a special needs child, and dependent on the public school system, as most of us parents are, to educate my child, I would believe the untruth that overly large special education budgets are "taking away" dollars from regular education budgets.

It is absolutely ludicrous to assume that each child is equal, therefore, his or her needs are equal. It is simply a fact that kids with special needs cost more to educate.

As a society, we allow that sick people cost more to keep well. We have mandated that all buildings should now be wheelchair accessible. Why is it that many still think that special education services "take away" from others?

In my son's case, special education services give my child equal access to the education that we all have agreed my son is entitled to. Equal access in this case is no different than equal access, say, in building design.

Additionally, cutting funds for services for children like my son saves nothing. Because he has a very expensive program that allows him to remain in a public school, we have been able to keep him at home and in district.

A residential program would cost two to three times as much.

It is time that those debating the budget now recognize that the problem is not "our kids". The problem is a refusal to understand that each kid is entitled to equal access to the same curriculum.


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