In my previous post Bulgarian children with cerebral palsy to be deprived of therapy, I wrote how the best Bulgarian facility for treatment of children with cerebral palsy and heart defects will be shut down (or deprived of funding, which is effectively the same thing). This decision was justified by reminding that "it is economic crisis now". An official, talking to a mother, said in plain text that "there is no profit from the children, on the contrary - there is loss".
A week ago, an American father of an autistic child blogging as Club 166 wrote a disturbingly similar post titled An Inconvenient Truth. Here are quotes from it:
"Unfortunately, one of the things that has become obvious to me over the years is that the general public doesn't have a clue what it's like to raise a special needs kid, has no real desire to know what it takes, and when times are the least bit tough the public is especially willing to throw our kids under the bus if it will help their own situation in any way. This is true, whether it's a smaller, relatively well off district like the one we live in, or a large one such as Los Angeles... When L.A. schools Superintendant Ramon C. Cortines was talking about a school for the blind in the LA Unified School district he recently said,
"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."
Aside from it being blatantly against the law for economic considerations to be driving who gets what services, there is the whole "attitude" thing... The attitude that while "regular" education is a right in this country, that special education is a privilege that can be easily revoked at the first sign of money trouble. The attitude that my kid (and millions like him) just aren't worth it.
...Such attitudes are not limited to uneducated or poor people. Indeed, my personal feeling is that such attitudes get worse, the higher up the socioeconomic scale one is on. It doesn't matter what overall political viewpoint you hold. Platitudes regarding equality rapidly fall apart when it comes to spending a dime on special needs education instead of the football team..."
The problem seems to be universal. I hope, however, that none of my readers will fall into the trap of fallacies common in Bulgaria and other backward countries - namely, that any phenomenon existing in a developed country is necessarily a nice thing. Or if it is not nice, then it is such a colossal problem that it is impossible to find a local solution and we should not even bother to try.