Yikes. What an incredibly, incredibly, incredibly bad idea.
Here's the comment I sent to Newsweek:
Cutting Special Needs funding to increase "Gifted" programs is incredibly misguided, for several reasons. First, there is already plenty of opportunity out there for gifted individuals--various enrichment programs through universities, and after high school, top notch universities themselves. Our entire society has multiple openings for bright, intelligent, gifted individuals. The same cannot be said of children (and adults) with disabilities, while there are some programs for such kids, they are few and far between and poorly funded. (BTW, the budget amount mentioned in the article for No Child Left Behind is mostly used for regular education, not Special Education.)
When proposing such a change, it makes sense to look at the risks, benefits, and costs for both the child, family, and society. For the Gifted Child, additional funding may or may not make a difference, but what is the cost of a lack of programming? Some loss of potential? Perhaps. Perhaps the gifted child will be "doomed" to lead a slightly more ordinary life, but certainly one that is self-supporting and can still benefit society.
On the other hand, the cost of failing to provide adequate special education to children with special needs is high indeed. The goal of success is, as the author points out, sometimes just to be self-sufficient. Failure to help reach this "minimum" standard results in institutionalization, either in group homes, larger facilities, or prison. Just look at the percentage of our high school dropouts and prison population who have various developmental and learning disabilities. This is the result of underfunding special education--a drain on society, a long-term burden on families, and great loss of freedom and potential for the children not served. These costs are definite--not just potentialities (as opposed to the losses with not fully funding "gifted" education).
One of the great shames of America right now is actually the lack of Federal funding for Special Education. More and more of the burden of special education is being borne by states and local school districts. Increased reliance on local funding for special education results in growing inequality in student performance between rich suburban districts, with special needs children with milder needs, and poor urban districts, with large populations of children with severe needs.
Ms. Lindsley's daughter will be all right, whether she gets increased "gifted" program funding or not, but her son's future will be far less bright without early and proper special education support.