Education is a costly endeavor and every effort should be made to spend/invest those monies wisely. In recent years there is a growing assumption that a disproportionate amount of funding is associated with special education. There is some truth to this. Special education was not supposed to be funded solely by local government; the Federal and State governments were to contribute almost 40% of the cost so that children with special needs would have equal access to the curriculum. However as funding sources have dried up from the Federal and State treasuries, towns have become increasingly responsible for funding the Federal and State mandates. What has generally been overlooked however are the ways in which special education methods can benefit those children enrolled in general education settings
In an attempt to create awareness on how special education can improve the quality of general education, eighteen years ago Alice Hunnicutt and I began the “Awareness Expo”. Initially we targeted the Expo toward parents of children with special needs because of the paucity of information available to them. As more people got involved the range of material presented at the Expo was expanded to make information available to all parents who wanted to learn how they could facilitate their child’s education. The Expo invites all populations to participate so that parents can find a community where their thoughts, ideas and concerns can be heard. I am happy to say that thousands of educators and parents who have children with varying abilities have attended this program free of charge. The distinguished speakers who present at this program have also volunteered their time as an expression of “What is right with our children”.
Recently parents and teachers in Westfield have been collaborating on adopting an anti-bullying program throughout the system - a program that was initially launched in the special education area. In my career many special educational models have been explored including the notion that different children have different learning styles. This is also true in general education settings. In special education the use of Assistive Technology and software to access curriculum, improve auditory processing, develop writing skills, etc. have been valued tools for decades however the niche market has made these solutions expensive. Today however with devices like the iPad becoming more available we are seeing this same software ported to these devices and the prices declining rapidly. 21st century students will need to master these tools and apps to succeed.
Education is a costly endeavor and good stewardship is necessary for a system to run properly. Over the years I have demonstrated good stewardship and will continue to do so if elected to the Board of Education. Please feel free to contact me at KarymForBOE@thoens.org or on facebook at Karym Hoens for Westfield Board of Education (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karym-Hoens-For-Westfield-Board-of-Education/204662249559757?ref=ts)