Everyone is affected by mandated programs

Your readers may think special education, English Language Learner and Medicaid don't affect them unless their children participate. Not true. When the federal or state government mandates implementation of such programs but fails to adequately fund them, as is the case for all the programs I just mentioned, all Arizona students suffer.

Schools were promised a 40-percent federal reimbursement of special education costs but actually get less than 20 percent. The Legislature pays less than half of the additional program cost of educating ELL students. Most recently, the federal government has cut back on reimbursing schools for Medicaid-related costs. And let's not forget the No Child Behind Act. It mandates testing and tutoring while lacking sufficient funding.

Few realize that schools must pay for these under-funded but mandated programs first, which means they must raid their regular education budgets in their attempts to comply. Students in regular education programs are forced to make do with what's left. Your student included.

Michael T. Martin

Arizona School Boards Association

Phoenix