There was a very interesting debate on SB103, “Residential Psychiatric Education Funding”, which provides for the funding of mentally challenged children in residential treatment facilities. It seems as if in the past that the Anchorage School District has not provided adequate educational services to these students that are residents in these specialized facilities.
What would you do if you had a mentally challenged student that wasn't receiving adequate educational services from your school district? You should support your child and do everything you can to change the law so your child can thrive.
As one reads through the supporting documents, both pro and con, to the bill, one notes that parents were very concerned that their children were not receiving required educational services from ASD. The district was receiving $830,000 funding to educate these students but was not apparently spending it on education. It provided six teachers (budgeted at $600,000) to the facility. The question is what happened to the other $230,000? Now the District, once challenged, provided 10 teachers and a bevy of computers. What took the ASD so long?
This is what happens when there is monopolistic control over education. There is no competition so an education provider doesn’t have to provide an excellent product. This shortchanges everyone–students, parents and society as a whole. Well, thanks to Senator Giessel (sponsor) and 10 other senators we now have a pilot program for 3 years which will benefit these challenged students (must pass the House too). Hooray for them!
So, what do the opponents say? Well, you guessed it. This has to be unconstitutional, they shout. Only a public school district can provide these services using public funds. Our question: “Why should we entrust this education of challenged students to the public school system if it has failed, in this instance”? The ASD took the money and shortchanged these special students. That is a travesty.
So now the ASD has come up with a contract for the North Star Behavioral system which specifies to the letter (27 listed items) what the facility needs to do to provide educational services to these students. Our question: “Why didn’t the ASD use these same contractual requirements to provide similar educational services to these same students”? Hypocrisy at its finest.
We agree that this is a civil right and these students have been deprived of their same rights. Thank you Senators and parents. Keep the pressure on for these children.