Reimagining Education

Vouchers and Special Needs Students

Kate Casas, State Director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri

One of the major arguments against voucher programs around the country has been that private schools are not equipped to provide special education services to children with Individualized Education Programs. This has been hard to refute, because there hasn’t been a lot of research completed on this subject–until today.

Patrick J. WolfJohn F. Witte and David J. Fleming completed a study that examined nine school voucher programs in seven states to determine whether the claim private schools don’t serve special needs students in accurate. You can read the whole article here, but the conclusion they came to is:

“…while the percentage of students in the voucher schools with disabilities is substantially lower than the disability rate in the public schools, it is at least four times higher than public officials have claimed. These statistical findings reinforce our views that the sectors cannot be easily compared to one another on this particular metric, because they operate under different legal obligations, financial incentives, and cultural norms. Special education is special in very different ways in public schools and in voucher programs.”

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