There’s a lot of sticker shock in the special education world. Evaluations, speech therapy, reading tutors, reading specialists, handwriting occupational therapists, executive function coaches, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapy, therapeutic horseback riding, art therapy, music therapy, special education advocates, special education attorneys, education consultants – the list goes on. But there is no sticker shock quite like the first time you see the tuition at the private special education school you are considering for your son or daughter. When you see those numbers for the first time, no matter what your income level or resources, every single one of us has an “oh my goodness” moment.
As a recap, an independent or private school is a school that is not supported by the government and which generally speaking charges tuition for students to attend. Tuition at various independent special education schools very often exceed that of their regular education private counterparts; tuition of $75,000+ is not terribly uncommon among private special education schools in Connecticut and New York. And forget about residential or therapeutic special education schools – most are beyond this range, and beyond this ballpark.Smaller class sizes, more support, differentiated instruction, and highly individualized learning plans are all hallmarks of independent special education schools in our area. But what does this mean, exactly, and what exactly lies behind that sticker price?
This piece is the second in our series “Special Education Schools: Getting Past the Sticker Shock.” This series, which will continue for the balance of the 2021-2022 year, is intended to highlight the differences between independent special education programs and give parents a sense of what makes each program unique, and what lies behind statistics like student-teacher ratio and “behind the sticker.” The schools highlighted in this series represent a wide range of special education independent schools in Connecticut and New York; each school serves specific and particular profiles of learners and may not be appropriate for all students with special education needs.
Disclosure: A member of Special Education Legal Fund’s Board of Directors is an employee of the Windward School.