NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

School Choice for Special Needs Students

August 14, 2015

Many parents of special needs children are discovering that public school systems do not provide the opportunities and options their children need in order to excel academically. Although other options do exist, like parochial schools, many families do not have the option financially. 

For special-needs children, vouchers and school choice could open new doors to schools previously unavailable due to the expense required to educate a child with disabilities.  Regardless of their parentsꞌ income, all children deserve a quality education. 

In 1999, Florida founded the statewide McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program which provides "scholarships for eligible students with disabilities to attend an eligible public or private school of their choice."

  • In 2013-2014 over 28,370 students from 1,248 private schools participated in the program.
  • Students with disabilities received more than $180 million in scholarships.

For many children with special needs the best education they can hope for is whatever the local public school can provide. Too often those schools do not have the resources necessary to provide a quality education to these students. Rather than continue to force students through a system, vouchers and school choice should be considered to equip all students to learn, adapt and thrive during their educational experience.

Source:  Thomas M. Chiapelas, "School Choice for Special-Needs Students," Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2015.

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