Our school district has one of the highest budget's for special needs kids on Long Island. Last year the district tried to reorganize the special education teacher staffing at all the schools to reflect the successful program in place in one of the grade schools. The result would have been the replacement of four teachers with four teaching assistants. They also wanted to implement a very small program for gifted children (there is none in place now).
The hue and cry over this was incredible. The parents went ballistic that they were going to "cut" special ed and spend money on gifted kids. There was no appreciation for the fact that the district already pays out a big chunk of its budget on special ed and spends NOTHING right now on gifted kids. The board backed down and things went back to status quo.
Our schools are geared to the lowest common denominator. Most parents don't realize how much this hurts special needs children just as much if not more than gifted children. If your child is special needs, but manages to do okay in school anyway, they are not eligible for services. The goal isn't to help children do the best that they can. The goal is only to make sure they can do enough to get by. I think that's why America lags behind other countries in terms of education. We need to help EVERY child do the best they can. And don't tell me there isn't enough money for it. Somehow the US finds hundreds of billions of dollars when it wants to start a pointless war in Iraq. They can find a few more billion here and there to help kids achieve in education.