NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) – In July, a photo of a young boy helping his blind classmate in the hallway went viral for all the right reasons. It was a glimpse of the good that special education programs can bring. But the moment almost did not come. “Despite a documented case of legal medical blindness, the school system needed additional proof essentially that teaching braille would be necessary,” said Stacy Cornwall, Nathaniel’s mother.
Cornwall believes Metro Nashville Public Schools needed such detailed documents on her son Nathaniel as special education programs can be very expensive. “I can only speak for my son but knowing what a fight we had to fight just to have braille, pre-braille available to him, I can only imagine what other resources are not provided to children, to children. in need of them, ”said Cornwall.
At the moment, Nathaniel is in pre-kindergarten but eventually he will move on to elementary, middle and high schools. Like any other parent, Cornwall wants their son to succeed. But to do so, she calls for major changes in the way the state funds public schools. Federal grants provide some funding to districts for special education, but the state funding formula does not provide funding for such programs, at least not directly. “Let’s start from scratch in building a new funding model. And that’s where I think we should start – in the field, in schools with teachers, students and parents. Understand exactly how our funding model affects them, ”says Cornwall.
She hopes the state will adopt a formula that takes into account individual needs so that the district can provide more snapshots of Nathaniel’s progress. “I think it’s very easy to get sucked into funding ideals and policies and forget that we’re talking about real children,” she said.
An MNPS spokesperson issued the following statement to NewsChannel 5:
While there is always room for additional investments in staff, programs, and support for our students, we are leveraging available local, state and federal funding to maintain a special education teacher-to-student ratio below. the one identified in the BEP formula in order to guarantee the needs. of our students are met.
We would be in favor of allocating additional funds through the BEP or other sources to further support students with exceptional needs, and hope that any overhaul of state funding will take into account the additional needs of students (education special, economically disadvantaged, English learners, etc.) when creating a fair funding formula.
Sean Braisted, Metro Nashville Public Schools