Letter to the Editor: Educating special needs students takes funding

Editor:

The year 2017 marks a changing landscape for education.  Despite constant media debates in the face of political uncertainty, improving education is easier than we think.

Education used to be a local affair.

Current state and federal mandates outline specific guidelines in order to qualify for state and federal funding.  While there is an initial output of money required on the local level to meet these mandates, this investment will benefit our students and community tenfold.  When you support schools in our community, you are supporting the generation that will eventually become your neighbors, colleagues and caretakers.

There was a time that our educational system lacked the technical knowledge of how to support students with special needs.  As a result an antiquated and ill-effective method of labeling and removing these students was in place.  Today we have research-based best practices to support students with special needs to successfully navigate their educational careers. Autism, developmental delay, hearing impairment, and traumatic brain injury are no longer diagnoses that would exclude a child from successful learning.  They are now stepping stones to overcome during the educational journey.

These stepping stones are overcome with the assistance of an army of professionals, including special education teachers and occupational, speech and physical therapists.  This army is built from members of our community – so an investment in education not only provides an unwavering foundation for the success and health of our students but in the ongoing employment of community residents.

These students will become the small business owners, nurses, freeholders, and voters in our local community.  They will be tasked with making decisions for our commonwealth – the success of which is highly dependent on how well we equip them to step into these roles. A solid educational foundation is the first step in securing the human capital vital for our community to continue to thrive.

Educating special needs students takes funding.  Please contact the Board of Supervisors and let them know you support special education in Shenadoah County.

Pam Kassis, Woodstock