Budget cuts should not be made to special education programs

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(BluePrints Photo)

Hannah Dear

BY HANNAH DEAR (‘17)

NEWS EDITOR

Budget cuts are inevitable within a tight economy; it is unnecessary to cut programs that benefit more than six million children throughout their education.

Over the past couple of years, $2 billion was cut from the U.S. Department of Education. $600 million of these dollars was cut specifically from special education. When schools are struggling, teachers’ pay drops. When there is no incentive for special needs educators they will become a dying breed. Many school districts do not have enough staff to maintain a special education program. This is partially because of the lack of training but largely because of the budget cuts. President Donald Trump’s budget for 2017 cuts the Department of Education budget by 13% which would seriously cut down the provisions significantly for special needs students. The amount of research being done to help special needs children is likewise plummeting. The National Center for Special Education Research has lost funding ever since 2011 and nearly had to stop all research in 2014. Special needs students cannot be helped if there is no research and no money to aid in their growth as a person and as a student.

It’s not only school districts that are cutting special education budgets. Texas was the first state to cut medicaid reimbursement for therapy services. It can be expensive having a child with special needs, and having the government support in these areas is beneficial. However, more parents are being forced to pay for doctor and therapy fees along with expensive private school fees so that their children can get an education.

The most popular special need programs in schools are the Individual Education Program (IEP) and the 504 Plan. Some of the students that require these programs need nothing more but the permission to type an in-class essay instead of handwriting it. Nevertheless, many students require special attention with these plans. This may include guided study halls, different classes, and outside tutoring. The best people to help with these programs are specifically trained intervention specialists. When there are a shortage of these specialists in the classroom, the children suffer. Some disabled or special needs kids may be able to prosper with a simple 504 Plan, but others need a great deal of special attention.

The government, school districts and states may not be targeting special needs kids or taking away their programs. However, taking away funding severely impacts these kids. These are kids that will not make it through school or reach their full potential without a little help, yet when the school needs to cut costs they target the students who are not on the same level as the others by taking away their teachers. These special needs teachers play an important role in every school. They cannot be taken away without severe repercussions.

Disabled and special needs kids are just as important as those with no handicaps. The school should treat them as such by giving them the teachers they need just as they give the other kids teachers in their classes that they need. These special programs make all the difference to these children. When budget cuts are necessary, they should not be made to special education programs or specialist salaries.