Matt Loschen wrote this blog post for our edCored series on education funding.  Matt attended public schools in Lake Forest Park, retired from Microsoft and now volunteers at Redmond High (the school of his two daughters). If you want to be notified when new content is published in this month-long series, please subscribe to the LEV Blog’s RSS feed or once-a-day email digest.

We frequently remind each other that our society’s greatness is measured by how we treat the weakest among us. Anyone who visits any school will immediately know who the weakest, most vulnerable are: the special education students, particularly those with physical and mental disabilities.

When I was in school these kids were segregated in a separate school, making it easier for them to be the butt of our jokes (much to our shame). My kids are much wiser than I was because the handicapped aren’t hidden from them. In fact, the genuine concern and love my children have learned to feel for their classmates is a source of amazement and pride for me. A barrier has been broken, and valuable citizens are joining our society, not as lesser humans but as friends.

So it’s not with pity, but with disappointment and regret that I watch the special education program at Lake Washington School District collapsed back into a centralized model, and the aids and resources for that program cut beyond the minimum so that budgets in Olympia could be balanced.

I thought we had progressed. I thought we had learned from our mistakes. We’re saving a little money, but on the backs of those who only dream of standing. And we are all diminished.

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