One of my frustrations, as my kids were coming up through school, was how few options there were if I became determined to ditch the public school system. Private schools that cater to special needs in our area work only with school districts, so even if we had the coin to make the tuition, they didn't want our money. Catholic schools, of which there are many in our area in need of parents' money, weren't a viable option for my kids' level of special-education need, and I'd heard bad stories from parents who'd tried it.
Maybe that's changing now, though, because according to an item in Disability News, Catholic schools seem poised to get into the special-education business in a big way. Parents willing to raise funds to create special-education programs in parish schools or pay higher tuition to take advantage of them are making it possible for special-needs students to have a faith-based inclusion experience. Many schools that don't have full-fledged special-ed have added resource teachers to their staffs.
I wonder if the new openness to special-ed is driven somewhat by the shrinking population of regular-education students choosing Catholic education. I know in my part of New Jersey, parish schools are shutting right and left as diocesan funding dries up and families who are struggling financially return to public school. Maybe students with disabilities, who for so long had no place in parochial schools, may be the savior of some of them.
Does your child with special needs go to parochial school? What has your experience been? Share in the comments.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images