How Schools Are Cutting Costs
Some school systems plan to cut back on pricey tuition for special needs students.
Last year, Washington, D.C., spent $280 million on private education for children who've demonstrated public school can't meet their needs. New York City spent $116 million. And other school districts across the country felt a similar crunch, shelling out not only for private school tuition but for legal fees in suits brought by parents seeking reimbursement.
In July, outgoing D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty laid out a plan for integrating special needs students back into public schools. He called for modernizing the district's special education facilities, forming partnerships with private operators currently serving these students, and creating classes for students in need of full-time care. "Time and again, we have been questioned about our capacity," said the deputy chancellor for special education, Richard Nyankori. "Today should mark the first day where we end the questioning."
New York City has also expressed interest in reducing special ed spending, releasing data that shows families in the city's wealthiest neighborhoods file the most reimbursement claims. "No one begrudges parents the right to send their child to private school," Michael Best, general counsel for the district, told the Wall Street Journal. "But this system was not intended as a way for private school parents to get the taxpayers to fund their children's tuition."
Three iPhone Apps for Children With Autism
We used to spend thousands on adaptive technology for special needs students. Now some of the best tools are iPhone apps that cost much less.
Model Me Going Places
Six slide shows demonstrate appropriate behavior at various locations, including the mall, the doctor's office, playground, and grocery store. Kids can scroll through the pictures themselves, or read the captions with a teacher. Free; modelmekids.com
"First Then" Visual Schedule
Caregivers and teachers can easily create schedules and routines for students by dragging and dropping icons-such as "All Done" and "Backpack"-into this app. You can also record audio instructions. Students check off the steps as they are completed. $9.99; itunes.apple.com
Students can drag and drop pictures to create sentences; the app then converts the sentences into speech. Students can also take pictures of objects with their iPhone or iPod Touch and add them to their vocabulary bank. $189.99; proloquo2go.com