Letters to the Editor: Feb. 20, 2014

Fund MAEP and give kids an alternative

Recently, we had to remove our youngest son, who is a child with autism, from his local school. We were fortunate to find a private school open to taking him. He is making amazing progress in a class with almost an equal number of white and black students. He went from making 10s and 20s to 90s and 100s in the first week. While the school deserves most of credit, and the Lord all the praise; we know the smaller, stress-free environment plays a role in his success.

The majority of students in special education have an average IQ. Most have only a mild to moderate learning or speech difference that separates them from their peers. Some are very successful in our local schools. Tupelo and Lee County are among the best school districts in the state, and they have many caring and dedicated, teachers, special educators, and administrators. However, according to Education Week (educationweek.org Feb. 6, 2014) only 32 percent of special education students graduate from Mississippi public schools with a high school diploma. Tupelo’s special education graduation rate is 20 percent. Lee County’s is 13 percent. Taking more money away is a terrible answer, and we need better alternatives. The Legislature, local government, our schools, universities, and citizens must all do more.

I strongly urge Rep. Brian Aldridge, Rep. Randy Boyd, Rep. Steve Holland, Rep. Preston Sullivan, and fellow lawmakers to fully fund MAEP because we’re strangling our public schools. Give teachers a raise, a big one. Until we can help our schools improve, give our children an alternative. Please, vote yes on HB 765.

Jon Cash

Tupelo