Calculating Overall Subsidies for Special Education by Acquiring Information from Individual Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

The ideal of public education is to provide each student with equal opportunity to effectively leam what he or she needs to leam. However, because students are bom unequally, additional resources should be allocated for assisting students with learning disadvantages. In order to gain a more accurate understanding of the actual needs of different types of special education students, questionnaires were delivered to 840 students in 280 classes in various parts of Taiwan. The main difference between this research and previous studies in the world is that in this study the students themselves are taken as the sample population, each providing responses with assistance from their teachers, so that the data gained from each questionnaire represents an individual student's unique needs. The overall weighting calculated from this new method of research is 2.20, which is similar to the results of many studies that were using different approaches.

Keywords: special education, school finance, subsidies, fiscal weighting

1. Background

The ideal of public education is to provide each student with the opportunity to effectively leam what he or she needs to leam. However, by this definition, special education students are unable to effectively leam in an ordinary classroom environment. Thus, ensuring special education students' right to an education requires providing them with separate classes and other support (Alexander & Salmon, 1995). According to the "vertical equity" concept of educational finance, because students are unequal, they require unequal treatment. Therefore, additional resources should be allocated for assisting students with learning disabilities (Ko, 2006; Rodriguez, 2004). Although the cost of special education is inevitably much higher than that of ordinary education, it still must conform to the performance principle with respect to individuals, social justice, and rate of return (Nathanson, 1998).

Ever since the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the educational rights of those with a physical or mental disability have been receiving increasing importance around the world. This is especially true in the West, where the provision of adequate special education is widely accepted as one of the goals of public education. Special education in Taiwan began to receive increasing importance in 1979 with the promulgation of the National Education Act, which states that appropriate education and skills training should be made available to all children, whether gifted or handicapped. In 1984 the Legislative Yuan promulgated the Special Education Act, further clarifying the government's responsibility for providing special education. In 1997 the budget for special education found a firm footing in the form of an amendment made to the Special Education Act stipulating that the amount of public funds allocated by the central government for special education should not be less than three percent of the total education budget; for local governments the figure was set at five percent.

Yet, there remain some doubts as to the ability of the special education budget to meet the actual requirements of special education students. Is there any difference in the cost of educating students of different types and degrees of disability? If so, what is the difference? In one of the few studies carried out in Taiwan on these interrelated questions, Ho and Chen (2011) present formula for calculating the cost of special education. In their study, the estimated costs of special education were calculated according to what special education teachers considered to be required by the average special education student in terms of teachers, assistance devices, and administrative support. While this method of cost calculation is widely used throughout the world, because it doesn't take into account the particular requirements of individual students, it's not possible to use the data thus obtained to carry out a more precise statistical analysis. …