By Da Lin

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The Oakland Unified School District says it’s cutting a popular reading clinic for special education students because the district doesn’t have the money needed to keep the program running.

But parents say the clinic is crucial to their kids’ success.

School officials just held a community meeting in West Oakland, where the district said the math just doesn’t add up in favor of the clinic.

The reading clinic serves 56 students this school year at a cost of more than a $1 million.

They say 20 percent of that is from transporting the students from their schools to the clinic.

Parent Susi Vogler said, “It’s invaluable, I mean you cannot get rid of it.”

Vogler says her son, who has learning disabilities, can now read at his grade level, all thanks to the clinic.

Instructors plan special reading lessons for the kids and provide around the clock attention.

Daniel Silberstein directs the reading clinic and said the “program’s been successful for so long is because it’s small, high intensity. We work 2:1 with the students.”

The district says they want to close the clinic and provide the same kind of service at the schools directly. They believe it would help more students and save money since the district is facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit.

Silberstein said, “Nickle and diming successful programs is not the way to be solvent.”

Oakland special ed teacher Virginia Bonham said, “Cutting your nose off to spite your face, that in the long run may end up costing you more money.”

  1. The district needs to find a cheaper way to teach reading to special education students. What about the other students, the ones NOT “special ed”? Where would these funds be better spent? Money spent teaching basic skills, like reading, to special ed students is money NOT spent teaching other students, who could learn so much more and go so much farther with that same money. Think about which group is going to be paying more taxes and supporting others in the future, and it’s obvious where the bulk of the money should be spent.