An article in the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the Los Angeles Unified School District is prepping a large cutback in funding for students with disabilities. They’re planning to shut down the West Valley Special Education Center–a specialized campus for disabled students–as well as 200 classes serving the same kids. In light of nationwide financial struggles and funding battles, the news comes as no shock. What’s surprising is some of the logic. As quoted in the Times, Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines had this to say:
“Blend [an LA special education center] has one adult to every three kids. Some of those are very, very severe cases, but you have to look at it in perspective. When you fund some of the special ed things, you’re taking from regular kids.”
But here’s the converse: when you fund some of the “regular kid things,” you’re also taking from “special ed” kids. “Special ed” isn’t the only exclusionary subgroup of students. What’s important is balance, not using a meat cleaver to separate students with disabilities and students without.
The decision came in the wake of an announcement that for the first time in 20 years, Los Angeles won’t offer any summer classes for developmentally disabled adults and seniors.
Robert Zazula, a special education teacher in the adult school division of LAUSD, was quoted in an interview with Los Angeles Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy:
“These people were born into a world where they are not as fortunate as the rest of us. They need our continued support. Now that there’s a budget crisis we’re going to forget about them?”