Several readers have written to me saying, “I’m an autism parent,” or “I have ASD,” AND “I’m voting Republican.”
I have been wringing my hands trying to figure out how to explain to special needs families how this decision will harm their own children. If your child is in public school, and on an IEP, he/she is getting supports and services paid for by the federal government, the state government, and in most cases, their own city or town. That “big government” that you despise is taking care of your publicly educated children — with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and No Child Left Behind funds and federal aid to cities and states.
If you have a child on an IEP, are you satisfied with the services he/she is receiving? If not, have you been told about The Strained Budget? If you have heard that there’s not enough money in the budget, that is partly because the federal government has only partially funded IDEA and public education, year after year. Yes, that’s correct. It is lack of adequate public money that accounts for the services you complain about. Without even that amount, you would have little or nothing for your child.
So, yes, it costs a lot of money to educate our kids. There is no getting around it. And perhaps some of that is waste, or some horribly corrupt story you read about in the paper. But by and large, the expense of special education is about the cost of paying specialists and teachers who need to get trained so that we are satisfied with how they treat our kids. Again, if you are not satisfied, that is probably because there is not enough money — enough public money from the government: local, state, and federal — to pay for this. If there were more, you’d have more. Less is not more. Less is less. Is that what you want for your kid? You know it isn’t.
If you want a smaller federal government and you want to pay lower taxes to it, then be prepared for your state and local taxes to go up. Or you will see a serious decline in the services your child gets. It is that simple.
We don’t want it to, but special education, costs money. Lots of money. Not military-level lots of money, but still, a good chunk of a town and state budget. If you don’t want to have to pay more in town taxes and state taxes, you will have to pay more to the federal government –or do without. Do you really want your autistic child to do with less than he’s already getting?
Government programs are for the greater good. They cost money because they do serious things to help people live and be educated and work. If your life is perfect, and you have a lot of money to pay for a private education, and to set up your adult autistic child with whatever supports he many need, then thank your lucky stars. But if you are like most of us, let’s say that number is 99%, then you should vote Democrat and for public funds. You should vote for a government that is willing to raise taxes on corporations and oil companies and the very very wealthy who can afford it. You should not vote for the government that claims to give you more in your own pocket.
And you should ask yourself, which is the more selfish of the two? The government that tries to help the needy and educate our challenging children with tax money — or the government that says, “let them do it by themselves.”