In the media: Southborough 13 year old runs to help local school

by susan on February 15, 2010

The Boston Globe did a great profile of 13-year-old Southborough resident Zach Levine, who has raised almost $11K for the New England Center for Children.

Before starting his fund-raising team Kids Helping Kids, Zach didn’t have any connection with NECC, other than he rode by it every day on his way to school. He wanted to learn more about autism, and then he wanted to help.

“I used to wonder why kids with autism didn’t play sports, but then I learned that some things in their brains don’t function like mine. They need help, but they are just like me. They don’t think anything different from me,’’ said Zach, now 13. “I like to help people who may need some help. To help someone else is the best feeling in the world.’’

You can read the full story in the Boston Globe.

1 Erin February 15, 2010 at 11:09 AM

What a heart warming story. Thanks for sharing with us.

2 Mimi22 February 15, 2010 at 4:11 PM

Go Zach! We are all behind you. His parents should also recieve a HUGE ATABOY!!! Raising children to think of and act for others is an enormous accomplishment, invaluable to our community and should be heartily congratulated! Those kinds of values are taught at home over a lifetime of good example and dicussion.

Go Zach’s parents!!!

3 dean dairy February 16, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Not to throw a wet blanket on a well-meaning effort by a great kid, but let’s be aware of the fiscal realities behind this.

Public school advocates will often invoke the needs of special education students to argue against “privatizing” education. Yet, for good and bad reasons, special education is often “outsourced” to private institutions at rates that are blowing a hole in public education budgets. I’m not necessarily saying that even the jaw-dropping tuition rates are unreasonable for the services provided. But information puts power in the hands of the governed.

Here are the tuition reimbursement rates paid to private special needs schools:

http://www.mass.gov/Eoaf/docs/osd/pos/freeze_sped_prices10_instate.xls

From the NECC’s own web site:

New England Center for Children Tuition
State law (M.G.L. chapter 71B, first enacted as chapter 766 of the acts of 1972) and federal law (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), originally enacted in 1974) requires school districts to provide special education services for children whose disability affects their ability to make effective educational progress. Special education services can be provided in a wide range of settings, including Private Day and Residential Programs.

In general, special education tuition are the responsibility of the district where the student resides or, if the student is living in a residential program, where his or her parents reside.

In Massachusetts, financial support for these services comes from four main state and federal funding streams: chapter 70, circuit breaker, IDEA, and MuniMed. The state special education reimbursement program, commonly known as the circuit breaker program, was started in FY04 to provide additional state funding to Massachusetts districts for high-cost special education students. Each state approaches the funding of private special education schools in a different way, so we encourage those interested to check with their states Department of Education.

Special education tuition rates for approved private day and residential schools in Massachusetts are set by the state’s Operational Services Division (OSD), and apply to students entering a private program from Massachusetts. The rates set by OSD vary depending on the nature of the program or services. Each approved special education school maintains on-site and makes available for public review the tuition rates set for the program by the OSD. Information on tuition rates may be found on the OSD website or by contacting us directly.

4 carrie alpert February 16, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Hey Dean,
you are throwing a wet blanket on it-

fantastic job Zach!

5 Mimi22 February 16, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Yea, you know this one is like sausage to me. I just want to enjoy it not know too much about it. With all the recent arguing about the school budget, can’t we just enjoy one “feel good” story?

6 Dee February 17, 2010 at 8:37 AM

Hey Dean Dairy, Hey he is a 13 year old doing something pretty amazing. Don’t rain on his parade.

7 Dean Dairy February 17, 2010 at 2:09 PM

How is informing adults in a comment section about the fiscal realities behind the story involved here subtracting from this kid’s effort?

Maybe some adults do “just want to enjoy it not know too much about it.” Okay, that’s one way to go through life as a public citizen.

But let us not kid ourselves that an organizations like NECC “Boston – Abu Dhabi” are bake-sale operations instead of large government contractors, or allow a well-meaning kid to be used to convey the former impression through the mass media.

8 JOJAMA February 18, 2010 at 11:14 PM

Hey Dean,

Are you for real? I think this a story about a fantastic young man! A young man who is being recognized for his contributions. A young man who didn’t have to care about any of this stuff. A young man beng raised well! The “it” we are enjoying is simple: Zach is a good kid and yes a good public citizen..Thank you for those words!!!

9 dean dairy February 19, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Hi JOJAMA,

I’m not quite sure how any of my previous comments conflict with the points you make.

As I said, twice, Zach is a great kid and I do not wish to subtract from the “it” we can all enjoy about this story. My intent was to illuminate the “it” about public education budgets that evidently some would just prefer “not [to] know too much about.”

A preference for blissful ignorance should not define public disclosure and debate when it comes to public contracting by private organizations.

Yet, instead of addressing the information and comment I provided about public contracting, you try to make it sound as if I made points adverse to the kudos you offer Zach, when I never did. Meanwhile, you insinuate that I am not “for real.”

That’s called building a straw man — one that certainly is not “for real.”

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