Katie Mathers, a special education instructional assistant, works at Lowell Elementary with Karen Giroux, a head teacher. She says, "The most valued resource is technology, and the kids use it to play games, watch videos, and learn from educational programs." When a device shuts down or has to be restarted due to its old state, it can be frustrating for anyone. Now imagine a kid with special needs, unable to register their emotions as well as typical kids, throwing a tantrum or pouting due to the frozen screen or dead battery. iPads are about three hundred dollars, and schools may not be able to afford enough to please all classrooms. If we support these teachers with funding to provide new iPads, laptops, or desktops, we can create a more stable learning environment for the students.
All kids love reading, especially those in my brother's class. My brother's favorite book, Elephant and Piggie, is a classroom favorite. When he comes home with a copy, it is beaten-up and old. My family can afford to buy him a new copy, but other families can't. When we deny kids the opportunity to read, we limit their imagination and creativity.
Karen Giroux says, "Scheduling is a hassle, so is contacting parents directly." Have you ever sent an email or a text and never gotten a response? I know, so frustrating. Now imagine doing that with over ten parents and no response. Not only do special needs classrooms need our funding, but they also need parental support. In the 2015-16 Lowell report, only twenty-seven percent of parents respond to surveys handed out. When teachers don't receive the information they need to create a learning environment, parents are really hurting their own children.
In my brother's class, there are many kids with different challenges, similar to a typical classroom. For example, some kids are working on social skills, while others are mainly focusing on school subjects, such as Math and English. With these different types of learners, different supplies are needed. One kid may work well with flashcards, while the other likes worksheets. Sometimes, the school cannot provide enough to satisfy every learner.
From the student's perspective, playing in the gym, reading in the library, and doing yoga on Friday afternoons can be beneficial. I know personally that going to PE and releasing some tense energy can be helpful for more focus in the classroom. Other specials, such as art, library, and music, all require certain supplies that can be expensive or obscure.
Lastly, at Lowell Elementary, fifteen percent of the students are homeless, or living in a shelter. The school provides lunches and breakfast for these students, for free. Food is not free; it may be part of their funding, and if funds are used in this way, it can eat away from other subjects. With our support, schools could have enough funding for all situations.
Working with special needs kids is a challenge, but with the right funding and support we can make teachers' and students' lives easier. Lowell Elementary is an excellent example of a school that could use funding to truly make students' lives better. Just like any other school, with the proper materials, students can prosper and continue their success into the future.