I understand the district’s desire to save money, and I understand that education for special-needs students is often costlier than it is for so-called “normal” kids. However, I’m also troubled by the trend towards trying to merely be “adequate.” Since when is “adequate,” aka mediocre or the bare minimum, something to be aimed for? Shouldn’t we have higher goals? After all, a D average is adequate to secure your high school diploma, but it’s hardly something we encourage our kids to strive for. Why, then, is “adequate” the goal for special-needs students instead of “the best we can do with the resources available to us?”
I share Kim Riley’s concerns. As she explains in the article,
The district says the new setting will be better for her son . . . It also will cost the district less.
Ms. Riley doesn’t think the new school will be better for her son, so she’s going through an appeals process to try to keep him where he’s at. I understand how she feels: we, too, have dealt with situations where service providers seem more concerned with the fiscal bottom line than what’s best for our son. It’s frightening as a parent to see the massive budget cuts that schools are facing, such as Brownback’s $50 million cut to Kansas schools enacted earlier this year. It’s even more frightening as the parent of a special-needs child: we’re dealing with a situation where districts, instead of helping our kids be the best they can be, are interested in merely being adequate in the interest of the bottom line. It feels like they’re being shuttled off to holding areas that meet the bare minimum, rather than being given the quality education that they deserve. Just because someone is “special needs” doesn’t mean that he or she can’t achieve every bit as much as a “normal” kid, or even achieve more. Giving up on special schools to help those kids and shuttling them off to annexes and add-ons feels like the district’s giving up on the kids themselves, as if their “special needs” make it so that they can’t succeed. It’s a grim and disturbing thing to look at, and frightening for someone looking to educate her own very bright special-needs boy.