State schools

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Missouri officials are trying to squelch rumors that Gov. Matt Blunt's agenda includes closing some state schools for severely handicapped students like Parkview State School in Cape Girardeau.

The genesis of the rumors, it seems, is a study initiated last year by Blunt. A St. Joseph, Mo., company was asked to evaluate the delivery of services to severely handicapped students and to review the operations of similar facilities in other states for possible improvements in Missouri.

All in all, it appears the governor's intent is to find ways to improve Missouri's state schools, not shut them down. But administrators and parents of students at the schools have been skeptical of the whole process, particularly, they say, since they were not included in the evaluation process.

Who best to know what severely handicapped students need from state schools than the parents who are a part of their learning process and the teachers and administrators who strive to make their educations meaningful?

One assurance that the state schools are not in immediate jeopardy is the fact that these schools were established by the Missouri Legislature, and it would take legislative action to close them or revamp them in any significant way.

Those who depend on the state schools for the severely handicapped can take some comfort from the response a couple of years ago by local legisltors to funding cuts that would have meant the closing of Cottonwood Treatment Center in Cape Girardeau. Swift and unified support for the center resulted in restored funding followed this year by national accreditation of the center.

In the face of the rumors circulating about state schools, parents and administrators would do well to consider offering their invaluable expertise to the process. It can only be hoped that the company making the review for the governor would welcome this input.

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