Investing in Special Ed
As a director of a Northern Virginia nonprofit organization, I was pleased to see the article on the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington's report, "Beyond Charity: Recognizing Return on Investment" ["Charities' Value to Economy: $9 Billion," Metro, Nov. 26]. It is clear that nonprofits deliver key services and address social problems that complement government investments in individuals.
But as a parent of a child with special needs, I was dismayed to see one nonprofit leader quoted as saying "special education is one of those areas that is the biggest drain in our public-education dollars."
While it is certainly important to ensure that children who can be diverted from special education are moved into more appropriate settings, there will always be children for whom special education is necessary. Special education and corresponding individual and family supports are an investment in individuals who happen to have disabilities. That investment is as vital as the public or private dollars used to place children in adoptive families, to feed the hungry, to provide court-appointed advocates for children and to prevent youths from contracting HIV. It pays dividends in adults and families who can participate in our communities and contribute to our economies.
Investments in all of our citizens make moral and economic sense. Let's stop trying to pinpoint any one group as being the "biggest drain." We're all valuable resources.