To the Editor, State Legislators, and People of Central Wisconsin,
I am writing to express some of my concerns regarding the proposed Biennial Budget.
I am the mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum. She is 6 years old and she attends public school. The proposed budget changes will affect her education and her life along with many other students in our state.
My daughter is a very intelligent and happy child, and she is succeeding in school because she has great support in special education. With the services she receives she is social, caring, empathetic, and fun-loving. She is a natural leader with an impressive imagination. Without supports in special education her social life will suffer, her grades will suffer, and her future will suffer. With a good education and the help she needs to accomplish what is expected in school she will go on not only to be a successful member of society – working a job and being independently insured – but will be capable of extraordinary things!
I want my child to build on her strengths, not be swept under the rug to save money. I want to be able to brag about the fabulous education we provide here in our state.
The voucher system proposed to save the state money is also detrimental to the right everyone has to a great education. It seems a great thing, to have access to any school. It can actually be discriminatory to lots of our residents. Since private schools are not required to adhere to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act my child, and many others, would be unable to thrive in such schools – in some cases, those schools would turn children with special needs away. Cutting education funding, especially for special education, is weakening the foundations that make Wisconsin a great place to live, work, and raise a family. It is not ok for the state to take away my daughter’s right to an education.
The steady decline in funding for special education over the last 20 years is having a disastrous effect on our citizens with disabilities in the State of Wisconsin. If we made a commitment to contribute the promised 44% to special education while children are young, it will save us millions by helping these people find jobs and live independently in the future. The employment rate for people with disabilities is very low, and 27% of Wisconsin’s citizens with disabilities live in poverty. Our education investment is where the change must start.
Senator Lassa and Representative Shankland have been working tirelessly to hear the people of our district – to hear how the budget changes will affect their lives and the health of our state, and to bring those concerns to the Joint Finance Committee. Please consider contacting them to express your support of their efforts and to tell them to keep fighting for everyone’s right to an education.
Elana Crueger, Stevens Point