Wednesday, 14 September 2005 00:00

Special Needs Education

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Special Needs Education

At a time when raising any child is challenging, educating a special needs child is particularly difficult. The federal government has passed laws governing education without thoughtfully funding the measures. As a consequence local school districts are breaking their backs and banks trying to satisfy these federal mandates.

Why is our federal government not fully funding their mandates?

Generally, it has been my experience that all parents pray that their children will be healthy and have opportunity for success. However, with unfunded federal mandates in education, children do not have the opportunity that one expects from a mature society. Sadly, many parent's prayers are falling on deaf ears and hope is shattered by sound-bites from Washington. Their words are empty because there is money to back up the initiatives.

While the intention of the mandates is honorable, without federal funding and support to move those good intention to action, unfunded federal mandates are causing catastrophic harm. As a result, special needs children suffer and they are suffering publically because their special needs are being drawn into the courtrooms and dragged through the press. The suffering of special needs children in inadaquately funded programs causes an entire community to suffer.

The education of all children suffers as local funding is sucked from every corner to pay for unfunded federal mandates. One special needs child can potentially drain the resources from an entire school district. This is not the fault of the child. This is not the fault of a family, the educators, or the school districts.

Instead of having the courage to stand up as a unified governing body and say no to Washington, the debate in Austin rages on unsuccessfully. The Texas Legislature is wringing its hands and wrangling over funding initiatives that further drain money from Texans' pockets.

Left unchecked, spineless and passive Austin Legislators will soon be launching a state income tax. Suffering, bankruptcy, and higher local taxes is the result of unfunded federal mandates. Washington must fund their mandates. These unfunded mandates are designed to undermine public education. We must draw the line and demand better for Texas or accept less for our special needs citizens. It's not rocket science.

As I write this, $350,000,000,000 has been "invested" in Iraq. If we simply divided that same value among the 50 states of the union, it comes to $7,000,000,000 per state. If we divided it on a per child basis it comes to rougly $5,755 per child (based upon statistics from CIA World Factbook. This is opportunity lost. If even a fraction of this found its way toward satisfying the education madates already established we would be a stronger and healthier nation. This is a direct example of how our youth are another sacrificial lamb on the Washington alter of political insanity.

The measure of a nation can be determined by how it invests in its future generations. To bleed good education away from the common pool of opportunity for a few desperate exceptions is bad management. Our government is charged with investing in our future and those investments must be measurable and responsible. Do I need to remind anyone who's money it is that they are so wrecklessly tossing around?

The measure of a nation can be determined by how it treats those with special needs. I'm not talking about gifts, freebies, or hand-outs. This is honest to goodness caretaking in the deepest sense of the word. Our government's compassion must go beyond words and deliver real value to the citizens. Do I need to remind anyone who's compassion it is that our government is distributing?

If our government is unwilling to fulfill its commitments to the people then the government is in breech of contract with the people and dabbles on the fringe of tyranny.

Thomas Paine warned of this in Section IV of Common Sense(1776):

Can we but leave posterity with a settled form of government, an independant constitution of it's own, the purchase at any price will be cheap. But to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the present ministry only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost cruelty; because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs, from which, they derive no advantage. Such a thought is unworthy a man of honor, and is the true characteristic of a narrow heart and a pedling politician.

Of course, a misanthrope might simply give up in disgust and acknowledge America's hypocritical nature and embrace Darwinism with integrity... be a good, complacent, Middle American and do nothing. To hell with those with special needs...

I think I'll continue clinging to what vestiges of humanity I have remaining.

Read 1529 times Last modified on Saturday, 07 April 2012 03:06
Rich Wermske

My pedigree and bona fides are published elsewhere. That said, I respect that a few may wish to learn more about the private person behind the writing.  While I accept I am exceptionally introverted (tending toward the misanthropic), I do enjoy socializing and sharing time with like-minded individuals. I have a zeal for integrity, ethics, and the economics of both interpersonal and organizational behavior.

The product of multi-generational paternal dysfunction, I practice healthy recovery (sobriety date December 11, 2001).  I am endogamous in my close personal relationships and belong to a variety of tribes that shape my worldview (in no particular order):

☯ I participate in and enjoy most geek culture. ☯ I am a practicing Buddhist and a legally ordained minister. I like to believe that people of other spiritual/faith systems find me approachable.  I am a member of the GLBTQA community -- I married my long-time partner in a ceremony officiated by Jeralita "Jeri" Costa of Joyful Joinings on November 18, 2013, certificated in King County, Seattle WA. We celebrate an anniversary date of February 2, 2002.  I am a service-connected, disabled, American veteran (USAF).  I am a University of Houston alumnus (BBA/MIS) and currently studying as a post baccalaureate for an additional degree in Philosophy and Law, Values, & Policy.  I am a retired Bishop in the Church of Commerce and Capitalism; the story arch of my prosecuting and proselytizing the technological proletariat is now behind me.  I am a native Houstonian (and obviously Texan).  At 50 years old, I am a "child of the sixties" and consider the 80's to be my formative years.

As I still struggle with humility, I strive to make willingness, honesty, and open mindedness cornerstones in all my affairs. Fourteen years of sobriety has taught me that none of "this" means a thing if I'm unwilling, dishonest, or close minded.  Therefore I work hard on the things I believe in --

  • I believe we can always achieve more if we collaborate and compromise.
  • I believe that liberal(ism) is a good word/concept and something to be proud to support.  The modern, systematic corruption of liberal ideas is a living human tragedy.
  • I believe in a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The pragmatism of this site and my journey is rooted in both classical and social liberalism.
  • I believe in democratic elections and institutions including a media free of commercial and governmental bias.  Liberty and equality perish when a society becomes uneducated and/or ill-informed.
  • I believe in diversity of life and ideas.  Life and ideas can only flourish when the gene pool is vast and abundantly differentiated.
  • I believe in advancing balance in civil, social, and privacy rights such that all of humanity is continuously uplifted.
  • I believe in separation of church (spirituality) and state (governance) -- with neither in supremacy nor subjugation.
  • I believe in private (real or tangible) property explicitly excluding ideas, knowledge, and methods; such non-tangibles, by natural law, being free for all humanity and emancipated at conception.

While change and the uncertainty of the future may be uncomfortable, I do not fear the unknown; therefore:

    • I believe I must be willing to make difficult choices, that those choices may not be all that I desire, and that such may result in undesirable (or unintended) consequences;
    • I believe we must be willing to make mistakes or be wrong; and I am willing to change my mind if necessary.
I undertake to abide the five precepts of Buddhism; therefore:
  1. I believe it is wrong to kill or to knowingly allow others to kill.
  2. I believe it is wrong to steal or to knowingly allow others to steal.
  3. I believe in abstention from sexual misconduct.
  4. I believe it is wrong to lie or to knowingly allow others to lie.
  5. I believe in abstention from non-medicinal intoxicants as such clouds the mind.

Suicide, major depression, borderline personality, and alcoholism are feral monsters ever howling at my doorstep. However, despite my turbulent and tragic past, rare is the day where I have to rationalize, defend, or justify the actions of that person I see looking back at me in the mirror...

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