University of Arkansas professor and blogger Jay P. Greene takes a Wall Street Journal reporter to task on a story she wrote about the cost of private placements in special education in this blog entry:
As I've pointed out before, the trick to writing an article blaming special education is to mention a high cost for educating certain special education students (or even a high-sounding aggregate figure) without putting in perspective how much money that is relative to the entire school budget. ... If private school tuition really is a "burden" as the title asserts, the cost of private-placement should be a significant portion of the New York City school budget. It isn't. If you look at the NYC education budget, you see that schools spent a total of $17.9 billion in 2009. The total cost of private placement is only $116 million, which is about .6 percent of total spending. This is close to a rounding error for NYC.
This is a good reminder that numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Context is everything.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.