The June 19 article Dade schools see rise in ‘Baker-acted’ students,
pointed out many reasons for this trend. One other factor is the loss of the Bertha Abess programs in Miami-Dade County over the past 10 years.
These classrooms for children with behavioral and emotional disorders were a national model, in which specially trained teachers, therapists and social workers helped children learn both academic and behavioral lessons. In dozens of public schools, our students received an extraordinary education, first-rate treatment and the outcomes were remarkable. Unfortunately, statewide budget cuts forced the school district to terminate nearly every contract with the organization.
This story reveals one consequence of that decision: More children being managed through the judicial system, at a cost likely far greater than the money saved by closing Bertha Abess programs. Surely all Floridians can see the wisdom of prevention. Jeffrey P. Brosco, associate director, Mailman Center for Child Development, Miami