Educators, parents and students across Western New York are fighting for an increase in state funding for schools that teach students with disabilities, often called 853s and 4410s.
“Not taking care of our children will eventually circle its way around to affect everyone,” said Jamillah Davis, parent of a son with autism, while at a rally on Friday at Aspire Center for Learning in Cheektowaga.
The most recent NYS budget gives a 7.6% increase in Foundation Aid to traditional public schools, but only a 4% increase to special education schools.
The increase is aimed to help with lost progress to COVID-19 closures. Members of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY) are calling on state legislators to give these schools an equal budget increase. They say these funds would help to pay educators and therapists a fair wage while improving the quality of education for students.
“We say we love our kids — education is love,” said Davis. “Education gives children an opportunity. It helps them decide what they want to do with life.”
Assemblymember Monica Wallace of the 143rd District was in attendance, and said she is taking this message to Albany.