Everyone by now should have received the mailing from BOCES promoting their upcoming 2/13/07 $38+ million bond referendum. Pay close attention, but don't think too much about what you read: the "cognitive dissonance" may give you a headache.
We are told in one paragraph that Alternative Education students cannot be housed in their home school districts because they "tend to pose significant emotional and behavioral challenges," yet are told in another paragraph that they, along with special education students, will be educated "in an integrated environment with non-disabled peers," and be in "a less isolated environment closer to opportunities ... " What???
We are told that "many BOCES-operated special education classrooms" will remain in their home school districts, but that the BOCES Special Education department "committed to keeping center-based programs for students with intense management needs," i.e., the difficult-to-manage students will be kept at the BOCES facility. Therefore, these must be the students that BOCES plans to integrate with their "non-disabled peers" (see paragraph above) . . . Right?? (This begs the question, if the difficult-to-manage disabled students can be "integrated" with the non-disabled at BOCES, why can't this be done in their home districts?)
We are given numbers to show that BOCES' enrollment is increasing to justify the expansion project. The number that we are not given is a population statistic: the fact that Oneida County has lost more than one quarter of its population since 1970 (about the time the BOCES facility was built) . . . and we know that the loss of young and family-rearing-age adults has been even more precipitous.
The alleged "need" to expand BOCES after losing a quarter of our population is probably the biggest cognitive dissonance of all.
Instead of expanding BOCES, we should be asking ourselves "Why is BOCES growing?"
We will ponder that question in a later post. In the meantime, New Hartford Online is blogging about the project's effect on tax rates and the mailing's veiled threat, so be sure to read that post. You also might want to read this blogger's discussion of how the project hurts students and taxpayers and a possible no-cost alternative.