You also have to realize that SPECIAL NEEDS is not just Autism, mental disability. This takes in kids who have problems reading, with math, ESL, and much much more.
In the school I work at 750 to 800 students total. Our Special ed staff is 25 people. We have a total of 140 employees at the school that is counting the lunch room employees as well. With each of these students they have to provide proof that each student is being taught the same exact thing just in a different way. The binders the SPEC ED staff have to build every year are crazy we are talking 10 to 12" thick 8.5x11" sheets double sided showing the students progress for the school year. They have 6 months to do that and teach these kids everything they need to know at the same time.
Our benefits package is OK not great but OK. I pay $35 for health insurance each month. That is not my family plan that is just me. To put my two kids on my insurance it jumps to $375 a month. We get a state retirement fund and that's about it. I am a college educated (AAS in IT and an AS in Network Engineering currently attending GMU working on my BS in IT) computer tech and I make $24k a YEAR. Granted I only work 195 days so it is almost $48k not a big deal to me. I am doing good and the job fits my lifestyle. If I move to a middle school I will make a hair over $30k and work all year long.
Also as for spending what do we have now that we didn't have then? COMPUTERS and lots of them. Technology is a huge part of our daily lives today.
I have 125 PC and 93 Macs just in my school. I have Interactive white boards in every class room. I have 3 carts of 30 macbooks for the school I have ELMO digital document cameras (New Overhead projectors) I also have ceiling mounted projectors mounted in every classroom. My school is 5 years old and was build with a wired Ethernet LAN and a wireless LAN as well. Plus digital camera and camcorders. Every thing gets used for education. We try to incorporate as much technology as we can into the teaching. The kids in my school take typing lessons from K-8 grade. By third grade I have 100% of the students typing their own username and password to log into my computer lab.
Technology is a HUGE part of our budget. Hell I spend $3-4k just on TONER for my printers in a year.
In a middle school in my district they have 250 PC 120 Macbooks and projectors all over the place. More interactive whiteboards and ELMO cameras.
Here is my take on the DOE. Could it be trimmed down SURE it could just like every govt agency. We are doing something wrong starting with no child left behind. There is no reason any child should be getting a poor education there is no reason for a child to be in a school that is falling apart around them. Every school whether it is a school in the suburb of DC or one in the middle of Compton CA should have the exact same funding give or take. There is no reason for some schools to not be as good as any other in my eyes.
I'm not Sheldon! I'm the Flash! And now I'm going to the Grand Canyon to scream in frustration *takes two quick steps* I'm back