October 30, 2007

Special Effects

I'm in Austin today for a school-choice conference, specifically, school choice for children with special needs. Five states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Utah) have enacted scholarship programs which now serve more than 20,000 kids with various disabilities (autism, traumatic brain injuries, blindness, specific learning disabilities, etc.). Here's hoping Oklahoma policymakers will consider the idea.

Survey data show that the scholarships are having a positive effect: Parents receiving the scholarships are overwhelmingly satisfied with the private schools their children are now able to attend. As one Florida mom (herself a public school teacher!) put it, "The attention Lucas receives at his new school didn't just save his ability to learn -- it also saved his life."

Unsurprisingly, the biggest opponents of giving special-needs kids a choice are ... teacher unions. In state after state the unions oppose helping these kids, and they don't even have the decency to be ashamed about it. So enacting the programs is tough sledding, but the fight continues.

Meanwhile, it's dinner time.