Understanding “Special Needs” Funding Abuses: On the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) (Part 11)

Categories: Léo’s Insights 2020-2021, On The Alberta Home Education Association

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My last few years as a public school teacher were blessed ones for me. I moved from teaching French to teaching upper academic Biology courses, which was more in keeping with my interest and training. I had more than a few experiences with “special needs” students in my day, but these last years were especially enlightening.

One would think that students taking advanced academic courses would not have learning issues, but that would be a mistake. Take for instance, this example:

I was given a long list of students noted as special needs and after the list the document read, “If you know of any other student who could qualify for extra funding, please inform the office”. This caused me great consternation.

The memo did not say, “if you know of any student who could use extra help”; it only asked for students who might qualify for extra funding. Taking a second look at the list, I was surprised to find a few of my academically proficient students listed. Asking, I found some who were not even aware of being on the list, and others who knew they were on the list but had received no additional help of any kind. Why? Were these students not on a list seeking special funding towards special services for “special needs”?

The student I especially remember had just immigrated from Saudi Arabia. She was brilliant, rarely getting a mark under 95%, yet she was on “the list”. When asked if she knew, she responded, “Yes, I am listed as ESL (English as a Second Language).” Incredulous, I responded, “But, there is nothing wrong with your English!” To which she replied, “Nor with the other four languages I speak!”

I tell you this story so you can understand why I am so adamantly opposed to the entire “special needs” industry. I have seen more serious abuse of children and parents take place in this area than anywhere else.

Before proceeding, I want to make it abundantly clear that I in no way desire to disparage or denigrate physical, mental or even learning disabilities in children. For sure, there are real parents with real children who have real issues. We serve such families and completely understand their need for assistance with their special needs children. I have nothing but respect for these parents. While personally being tempted to see them as having been handed a burden in life, most of these dedicated parents see it as having been given a special blessing. Wow! Still, they could use the help.

My opposition to special needs funding is NOT about questioning the need, but rather the abusive nature of the system constantly in “need” of more income. Most parents of special needs children know what I am talking about. Somewhere in the headlong pursuit of this funding, the human behind the special needs is forgotten.

The problem begins when nearly all the assistance programs available are tied to the public education system. Once upon a time, there was a special government ministry specifically for family affairs, which would still be a very good thing… except it makes too much sense!

Understanding that government education is a gigantic multi-billion dollar industry that requires students to keep it going should warn you that if special needs children are included and given extra funding, there is a real opportunity for abuse.

How many children listed as special needs are legitimately special needs? In my opinion, most learning deficiencies are actually school deficiencies or rather created deficiencies for the express purpose of increasing monetary “value”. Many of these special needs students end up doing just fine when removed from the system in which they just didn’t fit.

One must keep in mind that any industry will focus on survival and growth. The education industry is no different, except that the currency in which it trades is real human beings, worth more if they can be shown to be “special needs”.

Why would AHEA even consider bringing this nonsense to the home education arena? How could this be an improvement?

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