Viewpoint - December 28, 2011

Should special-ed students pay for extra care?

In a recent local Op-Ed piece entitled "A sad day for everyone," Sue Lempert writes about a 7-year-old boy, out of control in a special education class at George Hall Elementary School, who was subdued by a San Mateo police officer with pepper spray.

The real story, which should outrage taxpayers, lies in the public policy which created this situation.

Ms. Lempert states that, "Public schools, according to federal law, must provide an equal and appropriate education for each child, no matter what the physical, social or mental disability." She then says, "Four years ago, I reported that the cost to educate a non-special education student in the San Mateo Union High School District was $9,000 per year. But the cost for some special education students ran as high as $110,000 a year."

I have empathy for parents of children with anxiety disorder, learning disability, and other issues. However, I suggest that equal funding per student should be public policy. Anything beyond that is charity, and not the proper role of government. If the schools cannot accommodate these special children with normal funding, they should either pay the family the amount expended for mainlined students or require the family to provide the added funding to accommodate their children in the system.

Jack Hickey

Emerald Hills


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

The last sentence of my letter contains a term which I would like to replace. I said "...or require the family to provide the added funding to accommodate their children in the system." Make that "...or require the family to 'find' the added funding to accommodate their children in the system. There are many charitable sources for such funding. Government should not be one of them!

Posted by think again, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm

If equal funding per student should be public policy, would you apply that to all forms of government? And if so, what would the result be to society?

Some people receive millions of dollars in medicare benefits, while others receive none. Should we just average it out and say that you get $10k for your medical problems, and anything beyond that is your problem?

Transportation dollars: should each state get exactly the same dollar amount, regardless of their situation?

Taxes policy?

and the list goes on. There purpose of gov't benefits isn't to be fair, it's to be a social safety net among other things for those that are less fortunate than others.

If the parents of all special needs kids had to cover the 'extra' cost themselves, you would gradually see lots more kids 'disappearing', abandoned to the state/streets, and worse. Most people in the US don't have 100k extra per year for this. What would you have them do?

Posted by Bruce, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Y'all didn't hear The Boss at the grammies last night?

We Take Care Of Our Own.

Wee have to quit the "toss them out on the streets" selfish mentality.