The Case for Special Education Vouchers: Parents Should Decide When Their Disabled Child Needs a Private Placement

By Greene, Jay P.; Buck, Stuart | Education Next, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

The Case for Special Education Vouchers: Parents Should Decide When Their Disabled Child Needs a Private Placement


Greene, Jay P., Buck, Stuart, Education Next


The big battles over school vouchers in American education have focused on programs serving low-income children who live in urban areas. Milwaukee's program, begun in 1990, is the biggest and oldest in the country, and the District of Columbia effort, funded by the federal government, has been the most carefully studied. Both have been focal points of intense, partisan disputes, and both have been threatened by legislative actions in the past several months. But, even when they are considered together, those two programs are not as large as a hardly known, originally noncontroversial voucher innovation, the special education voucher. Four states--Florida (1999), Georgia (2007), Ohio (2003), and Utah (2005)--have special education voucher programs that together serve more than 22,000 students.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Special education voucher laws are very simple. The parents of any child found in need of a special education (in Ohio, only students with autism) can ask the school district to pay for their child's education at a school the parent has identified as appropriate.

Special education vouchers have a political advantage that vouchers for low-income students lack: they can benefit not only the poverty-stricken disadvantaged, almost never a politically potent interest group, but also anyone who has a child with disabilities, a population that crosses all social and economic boundaries. The concept also stands on particularly strong constitutional grounds, inasmuch as special education vouchers add nothing in principle to the rights established by federal law in 1974. Part of the historic extension of equal educational opportunity rights to the disabled, Public Law 94-142, the Education of All-Hand- icapped Children Act, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), was one of the most popular pieces of federal education legislation ever enacted.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

That law has four key provisions: 1) every child, no matter how disabled, has a light to a free and appropriate education, which can take place in either a public or private setting; 2) an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) must be designed for each child in consultation with his or her parents; 3) the child should be educated in the "least restrictive environment"; and 4) parents can object to the educational provisions for their child by requesting a "due process" hearing with an independent hearing officer, whose decisions can be appealed to the courts (see sidebar). But schools tend to win most legal challenges brought by parents. Given the long odds and financial and psychological toll of suing the same people who take care of their child each day, most parents tend to accept whatever services are offered, even if the services fill well short of those required by law.

As special education has evolved over the decades since IDEA was enacted, public school districts have provided most of the special education services students have required. But a small percentage of students are educated at private schools, most often because the district has deemed that facility to be the most appropriate and to provide the least restrictive environment, given the nature and severity of the child's disability. Many of the private schools serving the disabled have a religious affiliation, but that has not proven to be a barrier to government funding of student placements under IDEA.

As of 2007, there were 5,978,081 students in special education nationwide, with fewer than 100,000 in private placements. Only 67,729 were being served by private schools at parental initiative, a mere 1.1 percent of disabled students, and a trivial 0.14 percent of the 49.6 million students in public education. Students placed in private schools are more likely to be autistic, have multiple disabilities, or suffer from emotional disturbances than those students who receive services in the public schools (see "Debunking a Special Education Myth," check the facts, Spring 2007). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Case for Special Education Vouchers: Parents Should Decide When Their Disabled Child Needs a Private Placement
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.