Wisconsin parents say special education funding increase not enough

Jenny Doss, an early childhood special education teacher at Ben Franklin Elementary School, works with her K-5 class at the school in Menomonee Falls on  June 8. Doss is speaking out against Republican lawmakers' spending proposal, which only calls for a slight boost in special education funding.

Jenny Doss knows the staffing troubles of school special education departments all too well — as both a teacher and a parent.

As a special education teacher at Milwaukee Public Schools, Doss at one point had a caseload of 20 students — more than double the number of children she’d be comfortable having in her care, given their differing needs. The district couldn’t afford to hire more staff. 

When her best friend died suddenly, Doss adopted her five children to raise alongside her own. All six kids have various special needs. Realizing she could no longer handle the workload, Doss quit her job.

She moved on to her current job teaching special education part time in Menomonee Falls, where she has a much more manageable caseload of four students. But she continues to see her own children, in grades three through nine, struggle because special education teachers are spread too thin — just as she was at MPS.

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