Georgia parents fight the state (and win)

Parents of wheelchair-using student athletes are a little bit more relaxed today after learning state officials will restore funding to a Georgia association that organizes competitive team sports for students with disabilities.

About two weeks ago the Georgia Department of Education told the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs that it would lose about $700,000 in state funding because of massive budget cuts forced by the recession.

Parents, students and the association protested. The state money is about 85 percent of the group’s budget. The group didn’t know how they would operate without it.

Association directors still plan to cancel two sports programs – powerchair soccer and baseball for the visually impaired.

About 4,700 Georgia students participate in the group’s programs. Family members say the children’s disabilities prevent them from participating on their school teams.

So often parents fight to get funding restored and they fail. When you consider the tens of millions spent on education $700,000 isn’t that much money.

Still, as the state and school districts make difficult cuts, some programs and services won’t be able to continue.

Do you think the state was correct to restore this money? What other cuts – at the state or local level – would you like to see restored?

31 comments Add your comment

Rosie

June 10th, 2009
9:41 am

Laura,

Please post a blog topic about credit recovery programs/options being utilized by school systems. How are they working? Are students really being held responsible for the standards? Are teachers being pressured to offer credit recovery to underserving students? What do people outside of education think about credit recovery?

catlady

June 10th, 2009
10:08 am

It is no surprise that the sp ed lobby won. Let it be a “normal” group of kids and it would have been SOL.

reality check

June 10th, 2009
10:50 am

I sense a rather negative tone in catlady’s comments. “Normal” kids get plenty of support, don’t they?

It’s either the state support ALL (and we mean all) students, or NONE. I think I can support the idea of public schools getting completely out of extracurricular acitivites like football, basketball, band, drama, arts, etc.

Flipper

June 10th, 2009
11:31 am

catlady: “It is no surprise that the sp ed lobby won. Let it be a “normal” group of kids and it would have been SOL.”

and…….If it was parents representing a gifted group of kids, they probably would have been arrested.

ShooShee

June 10th, 2009
11:33 am

Catlady – I’m sure that the parents of wheelchair-using athletes would be happy not to have to lobby for their children and instead have “normal” children for which there are an abundance of sports to participate in. Sadly, it is too often the parents of “normal” kids who don’t bother to stop and think about what others have to endure. If they did, they would be standing shoulder to shoulder with these parents lobbying WITH them, not complaining that these athletes are somehow “taking” something away from their “normal” children. Happily, there are less people like catlady in the world than there are people with empathy and support for those who struggle.

Why teachers leave

June 10th, 2009
11:49 am

If you read some of the responses as to why teachers leave, it begs the question, why don’t the AJC reporters do any real reporting on the issues teachers have raised?

Maybe the next blog topic should be when will the AJC realize that substandard reporting leads to a loss of credibility and a massive drop is subscription numbers?

jim d

June 10th, 2009
12:10 pm

reality check,

it must be getting pretty cold in hell right now.

“I can support the idea of public schools getting completely out of extracurricular acitivites like football, basketball, band, drama, arts, etc”

WORD!!

Fulton Teacher

June 10th, 2009
12:36 pm

For the record, band, chorus and art are not extracurricular activities! Instructors must be certified and they’re some of the hardest majors in college. Football and basketball are indeed extracurricular.

Danteach

June 10th, 2009
12:55 pm

I gotta agree with you, Flipper. The gifted kids are always getting short-changed. They don’t get half the accomodations that other Special Education students get. And gifted does fall under Special Education.

Tony

June 10th, 2009
12:59 pm

Gifted does not fall under special education.

Accommodation

June 10th, 2009
3:19 pm

Where’s the accommodation for lazy, irresponsible, disrespectful students?

Oh I forgot. The entire education system is geared around catering to their needs. Gotta pass that test and make that AYP you know.

catlady

June 10th, 2009
4:06 pm

Reality, et al: I have worked with many disabled kids and taught very sp ed class for 2 years (my salary plus my parapros, not counting state benefits, were about $79,000 per year for 3 students, and we got to take one or two field trips a week, expenses paid). What I saw was every kind of money spent for the sp ed kids. And you know the sp ed lobby is very, very strong. The “push-in” movement is negating this somewhat now. Sp ed kids are not getting the services they once got, to their detriment and the detriment of their classmates.

The average kids don’t get nearly the resources spent on their instruction. One teacher for 28 kids doesn’t compare.

And the gifted? Well, I don’t know if they get their share or not. I DO know at our school they are the ONLY kids who get pulled out for special instruction and very small classes (and get to go on really cool overnight field trips), unlike the sp ed kids who now have to endure the whole “push-in” charade, along with their average classmates.

I don’t begrudge opportunities for sped kids, but I do wish appropriate opportunities were available for the average kids as well. Unfortunately their parents are not as vocal about their needs. And they do have needs also. Sooshee, no one said they were taking away anything. But average kids ARE overlooked.

God bless the parents of sp ed kids because they experience worries far beyond what the rest of us do.

Courtney

June 10th, 2009
5:11 pm

The “sped” kids anything they want today. All at the expense of the normal kids.

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Former SPED Teacher

June 10th, 2009
5:30 pm

Catlady is exactly right. The real problems, however, are not with the students who are physically handicapped and want to play sports. The problem is with the kids who are labeled EBD and other similar disabilities and are pushed-in the regular classroom. These students are often disruptive and require more attention than the rest of the students combined. The kids who are good, quiet, “average” kids get overlooked because they don’t cause trouble and do what they are told. “The squeaky wheel . . .” applies here only it is the loud, violent, abusive kid who gets the most attention.

Mike

June 10th, 2009
5:37 pm

Catlady, my mother uses a wheelchair. She also has four college degrees that she earned before the passage of the ADA. She had to enter buildings through loading docks and take freight elevators to get to her classes. I think she’d be horrified to be labelled as “special” and absolutely furious to be excluded from people you consider “normal.”

And yes, Tony, in some school districts “special education” includes both lower-performing students and the gifted program. It does NOT, no matter what the comments on this blog post suggest, include accomodations for physically disabled students.

bitter and angry

June 10th, 2009
5:45 pm

I don’t know why some people like catlady are so bitter and angry. As someone else said, I bet most, if not all, of those sped kids would pay to be “normal.” Also, in this context, we are talking about “sped” kids who are physically handicapped.

xnxnxnx

June 10th, 2009
5:49 pm

is that really true? students with physical disabilities do not qualify for special ed programs or funds? i’m surprised.

Lynn

June 10th, 2009
5:57 pm

These are not children with learning disabilities – these are students with physical disabilities (hearing, vision and mobility). They are not special ed and are in regular classrooms carrying the same course load as the so-called “normal” kids.

BOB L.

June 10th, 2009
6:13 pm

Iam glad to see the money go to hard working kids, who wanna learn and succeed. Now we need to spend 400 times as much money getting bully’s outta “PREMIER” DEKALB, and getting the county a NEW SUPERINTENDENT. I know this will curb the suicide rate for good kids!!!

k5teacher

June 10th, 2009
6:54 pm

I am a teacher who had a wonderful visually impaired (legally blind) student transferr from sped to my regular ed class. She did lose her sped status but did not lose extra help( OT teacher, visually impaired teacher) extra equipment (braille machine, enlarge screens on computers and etc). She was a delight to have and my little ones were always so helpful in helping her pick out her colors, organizing her materials, find her reading place, and letting her sit up close in calendar time and etc. They do receive extras without being in special ed! Hats off to the parents for getting their sped students sports! These students are some of the most loving, caring students I have had the privilege of knowing.

Lee

June 10th, 2009
7:39 pm

Anyone else pick up on the fact that the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs is a NONPROFIT group?

Is that a normal practice to fund non-profits with school funds in this manner? If so, what others do they fund?

Just asking.

BehindEnemyLines

June 10th, 2009
8:13 pm

Just quickly answering the questions you asked at the end of the post, no I do not support the restoration of this funding. And without having a detailed list in front of me to pick from, generally speaking I can’t think of any funds I would support having restored to the failure that is public education in Georgia.

peachy

June 10th, 2009
8:27 pm

There are two state funded programs for physically disabled sports There are two different non-profits getting state funds to serve similar populations in the same area: disabled sports – why can’t they work together????. With as many government cuts and restructuring going on this is one place that another could happen!

phillipbolding

June 11th, 2009
1:40 am

check http://lowcostwheelchairs.blogspot.com for $32 Electric Powered Wheelchairs

Nemo Black

June 11th, 2009
1:41 am

MACE right again. MACE has always said,that cheating goes on in Georgia public schools.Now,read the AJC artical on cheating in Geoergia public schools.

Someone is finally listening to the MACE Lion in the wilderness shouting, cheating cheating cheating.

Thanks,
Nemo Black

Nemo Black

June 11th, 2009
2:00 am

As I lay in my bed up side down, I notice that I cant see my legs. I Nemo notice that the world is still the same, and people still think the same.I Nemo don’t know why I just wrote that but, I Nemo never know why I write anything;especially,when no one listens but their is one thing Nemo does know is, MACE was right again. Nemo says the light is finnally shinning on the truth in what realy goes on in Atlanta Public Schools and Dekalb Public Schools STOP THE CHEATING!! in let teachers teach for real so the cheating will stop.What say ye?

Thanks,
Nemo Black

Nemo Black

June 11th, 2009
2:10 am

Nemo Tired Now,do kdklmlm,v lvlde;ld;lddkkipklccmdsljkc kkkck;ck;kkc,mmfmcml. Sorry Nemo Snapped.

Thanks,
Nemo Black

Nemo Black

June 11th, 2009
2:11 am

Good night your friend Nemo.

HB

June 11th, 2009
2:40 pm

Lee, I don’t know how much school money goes to nonprofits, but nonprofits do receive government grants. I know some states provide funds to museums to develop programs for students that enhance the curriculum (or sometimes just to fund sending students in existing programs). Science centers, for example, sometimes have high-tech labs and scientists on staff and run great programs for middle and high schoolers. Education funds may support that because it would cost far more to set up labs in multiple schools, hire expert staff, and develop new programs than to use a great resource that’s already in place. It could be that this organization provides a lot of bang for the buck by having a small staff and a lot of volunteers. I’m willing to bet too that they are setting up regional teams (some school districts probably would have enough players for their own team). If they already have a network in place, it’s probably more cost effective to just support this nonprofit than to have staff members in different school systems trying to coordinate with each other and then do all the work of setting up schedules, getting equipment with pooled funds from the different systems, etc.

Which makes me wonder — what kind of organization exactly is GHSA? Are they a state association? Do they receive state funds? Does anyone know how that works?

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