Dear Assemblymember Ting,
The special education services our children receive from the caring and skilled therapists, teachers and other providers at San Francisco Unified School District have been integral to their academic progress and social-emotional well-being.
Each year more children need special education. At the same time, Special education costs increase and account for a greater share of the SFUSD structural budget deficit. The Federal and State governments have failed to meet the funding obligations for Special Education costs as mandated in the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
On April 19th, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution requesting State and Federal governments fulfill their obligations to local school districts for special education funding. We are writing to support the San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution as well as to request your support to double the governor’s current budget proposal for special education to 1 billion dollars. The current budget is not nearly enough to address the decades of underfunding and the additional strains placed on the system due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doubling the budget will:
- Address the severe staffing shortage for certified teachers and service providers. There is a critical backlog of assessments and reevaluations for special education services. Without these assessments, needs are not identified, and services get delayed. When services are delayed, problems can worsen and directly impact the development of children and their mental health. This puts children at risk of regression and furthers the widening of the achievement gaps that already exist. The services that are provided can be ineffective and insufficient because of the staffing crisis and the challenges districts face to hire, train, and retain staff.
- Decrease school districts’ use of Unrestricted General Funds to fund Special Education costs.
- Increase mental health funding to provide services and support for children who are facing crises.
- Increase the base rates allocated in The Special Education Program (AB 602).
Please advocate for more funding for special education. Our children and educators are counting on our legislative leaders for help.
Seth Brenzel, Meredith W. Dodson, Yvette B. Edwards, Jennie Herriot-Hatfield, Cliff Yee
Board of Directors, SF Parent Coalition