Saturday, December 15, 2007

Why I Home School...Well, One of the Reasons...

Been quiet, right? But here's a very worthwhile Wall Street Journal article on the fickle financial forces of special ed., and, right behind it, a very complete thesis on the pros and cons of neurodiversity as presented by my all-time fave indie mag, Brain, Child.

The WSJ article, in particular, was interesting because it specifically dealt with the school district of Greece, New York--the school system that was in the news last year when a 17 year old autistic boy named Jason McElwain scored 20 points in the last four minutes of a varsity basketball game. McElwain had been the team's equipment manager. Team members had begged that the student get an opportunity to play in an actual game before he graduated--success beyond anyone's wildest dreams ensued. At the time, the media presented the event as an inclusion success story.

But here's the seamy underbelly of the mainstreaming philosophy:
Special-education budgets plummeted, too. Between the 1998-99 and 2004-05 school years, Greece reduced its spending on programs for disabled students by 26%, to $13.1 million from $17.6 million. Spending on special education dropped to 8% from 15% of total expenditures.

Upset at what they describe as the district's increasing refusal to provide services, a group of parents began meeting and comparing notes. They suspected that the district was effectively mainstreaming by simply capping the number of students eligible for services. Some children who were classified as special-education students were declassified and placed in regular classrooms with little or no additional help.

This kind of's like Christmas coming early, ain't it?