Tennessee Special Needs Kids Get Choices in Education

CascadeNewLogoBy Kathryn Hickok

Tennessee just became the 28th state to enact a private school choice program, giving parents more options for their children’s education. Governor Bill Haslam signed the nation’s fourth Education Savings Account law last Monday.

Arizona, Florida, and Mississippi already allowed parents to have some control over the funding allocated for their kids’ education through Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). ESAs are a flexible way for parents to manage some of the money that otherwise would be used for their kids’ education in their zoned public school. ESAs allow parents to pay for different kinds of educational services that may be the best fit for their children, including tuition, online courses, tutoring, therapy, or other categories of expenses defined by law.

Now, Tennessee children with an Individualized Education Plan will be able to use state and local funds, plus special education funds to which they would be entitled, for the schools and services their parents judge will best meet their individual needs. This law empowers parents of children with autism and many other special needs to get the help they need to succeed in school.

Parents of children with special needs want less red tape and more options. ESAs empower families to find and pay for those options, providing winning solutions for children. Oregon children should be given this opportunity, too.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute. CSF-Portland is a partner program of the New York-based Children’s Scholarship Fund.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • sam
  • Bob Clark

    Individualized Education Plans (IEP) seem very promising as reform of public education. How to create such IEPs is a big question. I should think a set of principles and guidelines for qualifying IEPs could be best developed by a standards board comprised of business, religious, civic (government), random selected parents with children of school age (spanning the existing demographics), and a few others not coming to mind presently.

    Business is of utmost importance as it is the primary goal of education to get one’s child out of one’s basement when reaching the age of late teen to mid twenties (speaking more broadly than just students with disabilities here..the general student populace). And we mean in a positive way here.

    Parent would be in charge of developing his/her child’s IEP with mentors from institutions parent and child are sympathetic towards.

    IEPs are better situated to take advantage of the great advances in learning technology and their potential advantage in flexibilities versus the one size-fits-all public monopoly factory school model.

    A GOP gubernatorial candidate(s) should lead the way in this type of educational reform, as the GOP isn’t likely to get huge support from the existing public school monopoly interests anyways but could gain broader appeal with this specter of uplifting hope.

  • Dolores

    No parent should have the choice to send their kid anywhere but the public school closest to them. Otherwise, how would crummy teachers stay employed? Everyone would leave the failing schools. And then what???

    • .

      OEA! Oregon’s ‘unelected’ governor says you proffer boo coo happy hour trough-age tails to her inSalem asylum leeches pets.

  • Jack Lord God

    This sounds like it is a more versatile version of a school voucher system. People need to start looking at this as a litmus test issue. There needs to be a lot more bluntness on it, kind of the same as gay marriage. That tactic worked because deep down everyone knew it was true. It’s the same with education – deep down everybody knows that we have been throwing money at the problem for decades and we have some of the worst schools in the world, Oregon the lowest graduation rate in the US.

    Start being blunt with your friends who reflexively want to throw money at the problem. Start asking them to justify being against school vouchers or programs like the one in the article. What? We are supposed to tell the current generation in school to suck it while why diddle around lathering money on teachers unions? Why not solve the problem right here right now and let parents send their kids where they want?

  • guess who

    We used to have local control until this state decided they know better how to spend taxpayers money than local school boards

    • .

      OEA! Follow the pc Dem oxymoronry PAC’d with conscription’s of public employee do-do’s.

    • .

      An’ Ryn Dem Dil-does

    • Eric Blair

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the money that the legislature allocates for K-12 education go to local school boards to spend?

      • guess who

        I do’ not believe it ‘s humanly possible to correct you.

        • Eric Blair

          I’m sure you don’t. That is your failing, not mine.

          • guest

            Spook’n GD sic and tired of your EB gee bees cooties, monsewer! Suggest you goal back and soak yourself inside the ad nausea gasarium oracle from whence you prevaricate,

          • Eric Blair

            awww… you’re tired of me. I can’t begin to tell you how sad that makes me.

          • guest

            You may raise your ayes to tail in behind Marshall Applewhite moist any tome now.

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