[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to email@example.com.]
To the Editor:
Southborough ranking of 30th and Northborough’s ranking of 39th in Boston Magazine’s recent “Best Schools in Boston 2013” is a farce if you are a special education child.
A performance tracking of special education students starting in grade 3 evolving to grade 7 shows that the overall MCAS figures are ever worsening in each District. Northborough’s 2012 MCAS failure results (categories of needs improvement or warning) for this group were 70% for English Language Arts (ELA) and 86% for Math. Southborough failure rate was only marginally better at 28% for ELA and 86% for Math. These two school systems are managed by a singular special education administration.
Approximately 85% of all special education students in both towns are educated alongside their non-disabled peers in a general education environment for part to all of their day.
Disturbingly, the response to this performance crisis was to cut funding in the Southborough special education budget by $400,000 and to add a scarce 1.2 staffing resources to Northborough’s special education budget. The net combined K-8 budget change was a $50,429 cut in special education while regular education was increased by $956,370.
In the manufacturing or business worlds, an 86% product failure would result in plant closure and cessation of the business line. No CEO, let alone division head, could stay employed with an ever increasing track record of failure. Certainly no board would think that cutting funding would be the remedy for product failure. Yet, somehow in the educational world, these results have provided the special education leadership with continued employment and delivered to both town’s a 2013-2014 budget that perpetuates the problem.
The Northborough, Southborough and Algonquin school committees must start managing the town’s education and more specifically, its special education, as a business designed to achieve success. They must go beyond budget adherence or reduction and recognize that any successful business is defined by quality production, satisfied customers, appropriate risk management and quantifiable results that demonstrate not only efficiency but effectiveness.
They must hold their leadership accountable for failures.
Anything less is gross negligence.
To continue on the same path, with the same leadership, expecting the same results is to knowingly discriminate against the special education students.
[Ed note: Ms. Moore disclosed that she is the Vice President of the Northborough/Southborough Special Education Parent Advisory Council. But she is writing this letter as a concerned parent of a special education student. This letter is not on behalf of NSPAC.]