Special Education Costs Are Rising
The cost of special education is skyrocketing, as are the number of students diagnosed as having special needs. In the previous fiscal year, Massachusetts spent more than $1.7 billion on special education — that's up half-a-billion dollars since 2002.
Much of that money is going for the record high number of students diagnosed as having an "autism spectrum" disorder. About 1,000 autistic children are enrolling in Massachusetts public schools each year. Some parents have hired attorneys to make sure school districts comply with the law that requires all students receive a "free and appropriate" education.
We look at how schools are funding special-education programs and how parents are fighting for the education of their children.
- Richard Robison, executive director of the The Federation for Children with Special Needs. His experience includes six years as a senior policy analyst to the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation.
- Wayne Ogden, superintendent of Franklin Schools
For an overview of resources for parents, visit the Massachusetts Department of Education website. You can also visit their resources page for more about specific disabilities. To learn how you can help your special-needs child, or to find an advocate, contact the Massachusetts Advocates for Children. To learn more about autism visit the National Autism Center.
This program aired on November 16, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.