A powerful and passionate letter to Governor Walker from Sheila Plotkin of McFarland.
Dear Governor Walker,
Rep. John Jagler wants to revive his failed special needs vouchers proposal. He needs your support. I am writing to urge you not to give it.
I am a retired teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing. For 20 of my 28 years in the Milwaukee Public Schools, I served as the program’s diagnostic teacher. I assessed hundreds of kids, some of them with multiple special needs. I taught in-service classes to both special needs and regular education teachers. My experience showed me that even the most dedicated, eager-to-learn teachers needed a great deal of time and exposure to gain an understanding of how to teach special needs kids. It can be a complicated and difficult task to devise the individualized instruction necessary to give them what they need. But, they deserve nothing less.
Less is what they’ll get in unaccountable education-for-profit schools. They will not be protected by IDEA. They will not be assured of trained staff or therapists. They can be rejected when it becomes clear they “don’t fit”. The for-profit school administration will keep the taxpayer’s money. Meanwhile, their public school has been deprived of essential, public funds. With fewer resources, that school must continue to provide special needs students with an appropriate education as the law requires.
Given that there is no research to prove that regular education students do better in education-for-profit settings, it is irresponsible at best, criminal at worst, to lure special needs students into this educational dead end.
You claim to fight for Wisconsin’s hard-working taxpayers. We can barely afford our public school system now. We cannot support a for-profit system too.
Governor, our special needs children are relying on your good will and common sense. You have a responsibility to protect them from becoming cash cows milked by profiteers. You owe it to them and to their parents to set aside your ideology, to reject the demands of your deep-pocketed donors, and to stand up for these youngsters’ rights. Their future is in your hands.