Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Budget Crises: All Children at Risk

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Budget Crises: All Children at Risk

Article excerpt

Headlines around the country are trumpeting terrible shortfalls in school budgets. Communities are being forced to make budget cuts in educational services. Teachers are being laid off, class sizes are being increased and school programs are being reevaluated to determine whether further cuts can be made. In open forums and the local media, parents of children with disabilities are being asked to share the burden of budget cuts with all other parents.

Twenty years ago, in our editorial entitled Let Us All Stop Blaming the Parents, we described the many ways that parents of children with disabilities were criticized when they sought educational or rehabilitation opportunities for their child or even when they sought professional advice. Implicitly or explicitly, parents were told that their child would not profit from one program or another because of the child's disability. Thus, the child's disability was blamed" for the fact of the child's exclusion. Parents who did not accept the exclusion of their child were "blamed" for being unrealistic and not accepting of their child's alleged "limitations." In fact, the limitations were in the communities which lacked experience with children with disabilities and/or lacked the funds to create adequate programs.

We have come a long way - community attitudes have changed for the better. Even critics no longer say that school programs do not benefit children with disabilities. Educational and vocational opportunities continue to improve. The fruits of the earlier efforts by unrealistic" parents and professionals are evident as more and more young adults with disabilities are integrated within higher education programs and the world of work.

There is a new threat. In some communities, leaders and opinion-makers are trying to attack mandated education programs for children with disabilities as "budget-busters." They are arguing that funds allocated to facilitate the education of children with disabilities are limiting educational opportunities for other children.

Let us be clear. All educational programs for all children are hurting because there is a lack of community support which has led to funding cuts. All children and all parents are the victims. …

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