Unsafe for Special Needs Students

My whole life has been dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those with developmental, emotional and/or physical challenges. For 25 years, I have taught students who not only have been diagnosed as having a learning disability, but who also have major medical needs. Larger class sizes and cut backs on supplemental services have negative consequences for students with special needs.

As a special education teacher, parents not only trust me to educate their child; they also want me to make sure their child is safe. It’s a huge responsibility, which is why I’m glad I don’t have to do it alone-I’m part of a team of teachers and education support professionals, like teacher’s aides, school nurses and other employees. We’re a family that is working together to do what’s best for special needs students.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, my school district laid off staff. These cuts have hurt my students  because some of the educational aides lost their jobs. I depend heavily on my aides to help me maintain a safe learning environment for my students.

My colleagues and I have been asked to make significant sacrifices, yet Columbus politicians have handed out millions of dollars in tax breaks to their corporate campaign contributors. Slashing funding to schools, especially special education programs, resulting in less staff to take care of our most vulnerable students, is not just wrong—it could result in unsafe conditions.

Issue 2 will hurt our students, not only their education, but their safety too. For me, that’s just too much to risk, which is why I am voting NO on Issue 2.

—Gretchen Washington, special education teacher, Springdale

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