Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Recession hits special-ed students hard

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – For some high school seniors, landing a job means more than extra cash for the movies or the mall – getting a paycheck means a chance to graduate.

Yet many schools that place special education students in paid jobs leading to so-called “occupational diplomas” are finding their work cut out for them: Soaring joblessness means restaurants, small businesses and retailers that for years provided jobs to students with disabilities are increasingly hard-pressed to help in a sour economy.

“A lot of systems are having this problem where you have teenagers competing for jobs with 40- and 50-year-olds now that are back in the job market looking for anything to help put food on the table,” said Butch Starnes, director of a career technical center who regularly places students in jobs in northern Alabama.

The occupational diploma programs emerged in recent years across some Southern states to help young people with disabilities enter the work force through paid jobs while they complete high school.

Yet this isn’t a normal economy, and the work force is shrinking daily.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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