The city plans to save money by increasing class sizes for special education kids, outraging parents and educators who say students will suffer under the new system.
Education officials quietly voted last week to reduce funding and increase class sizes by about 20% for many special education kids in city schools starting next year.
Teachers and parents say the new rules could mean less effective instruction for about 175,000 special education students in city schools.
Under the modified funding formula, high schools will receive enough money for special education classes with 15 students, up from 12. In younger grades, the number of special education students taught alongside mainstream peers will increase from 10 to 12.
The larger class sizes will "decrease the system-wide cost by reducing the need for additional classes," according to a Department of Education memo.
An agency spokeswoman said some schools already have special education class with a larger number of students.
"The changes to the funding weights reflect an alignment with the instructional models we know many schools are already using as well as the state guidelines on special education class sizes," said education department spokeswoman Barbara Morgan.
But special education teachers said that larger class sizes will make instruction difficult for kids with disabilities like autism, dyslexia and attention deficit disorder.
"The key to reaching these kids is individualized attention," said Becky Alford, a special education teacher at Public School 32 in Park Slope. "With more kids in your class, you can't possibly give them as much attention."
Principals said the change in the funding formula amounts to a significant cut to budgets for their special education programs, and students with disabilities will bear the consequences.
"It's a huge loss. Our students are going to suffer because of it," said one Brooklyn principal who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Well, there's just nothing that can be done about this because we must increase technology spending by $550 million next year so that children can take standardized tests every six weeks and teachers can be held accountable for the scores on those tests.
That's why Bloomberg is cutting the special education program spending.
That's why he's cutting teachers too through attrition and layoffs.
The mayor has decided that NOTHING is more important than the new testing apparatus they plan to roll out in the next few years and they need the technology infrastructure to pull it off.
So there you have it - computers and computer consultants and tests over children with special needs.