Equality for Students or Undermining of Public Education?
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Equality for Students or Undermining of Public Education?

Equality for Students or Undermining of Public Education?

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Reimbursement

Recently, the Supreme Court decided that students with special needs may be reimbursed for educational programs outside of the public programs available in their district if their needs are not being served. The court ruled in a 6-3 decision in favor of an Oregon boy who was attending private school at a monthly cost of $5,200 per month, but whose school district did not provide special services for students with ADHD.

“Federal law calls for school districts to reimburse students or their families for education costs when public schools do not have services that address or fulfill the students’ needs. But schools have argued that the law says parents of special education students must give public special education programs a chance before seeking reimbursement for private school tuition.”  Jesse J Holland – Associated Press

As a teacher, I worry about the impact of this ruling upon the sustainability of our public schools if tax payer dollars could potentially funnel into private institutions.

But as a parent, I say “”Bout time!”

I have long questioned the current public schooling model and its lack of diversity of opportunity and services for the wide range of varying abilities that cross our threshold each year. I think many could agree that while we may educate the masses to the best of our abilities with the funds and time provided, that we rarely focus on our students as individuals, recognizing their unique abilities and developing their talents.

Perhaps this ruling is the wake up call that our mediocre public school system needs in order to take our instruction and district planning to the next level.

Image: Wadester16
5 Comments
  • jasonflom
    Posted at 11:26h, 23 June Reply

    I guess this could be something of a slippery slope.

    If ADHD qualifies, might a peanut allergy? Tourettes? High functioning Aspergers?

    What about Gifted? If a child is “diagnosed” with a high IQ, but the school district does not have a gifted program (many are being cut in this economy), might the family seek funds to send the child to a more academically accelerated private school?

    You make an interesting (and optimistic) point: the potential for sweeping improvements to truly meet the needs of all learners in order to avoid the money drain. The problem is is that there are a number of high ranking policy makers (many of the Jeb Bush ideologues here in Florida) continuing to celebrate and advocate for vouchers. This decision works to their favor.

  • Jason Flom
    Posted at 18:09h, 23 June Reply

    New Supreme Court Ruling — Equality for Students or Undermining of Public Education? http://bit.ly/BZuzp

  • Prestwick House
    Posted at 13:43h, 24 June Reply

    RT @jasonflom New Supreme Court Ruling — Equality for Students or Undermining of Public Education? http://bit.ly/BZuzp

  • Jessica Horton
    Posted at 04:22h, 25 June Reply

    But that is just it Jason…. Gifted does qualify currently, but some programs are being whittled down to mere enrichment programs rather than providing the alternative instructional methods that gifted students truly require. Peanut allergies are actually the “disability” that are taken most seriously in your list of above special needs students. Perhaps because it's the only life threatening condition and therefore the one with the highest likelihood of litigious action if not dealt with appropriately. It would be ridiculous of course for those students to require special instruction in order to academically succeed, but if their school was not protecting the safety of their child, those parents should absolutely be allowed to take their dollars elsewhere.

    I never thought that I would be an advocate of private school vouchers, and I still have extreme reservations about public money being used at religious institutions as I have always felt that those two systems should never mix. However, I am more concerned about the lack of ability public schools have to meet the needs of all students. If educational excellence is what we seek, why just stop short of serving all? Why is it okay if we operate on the philosophy, “Well most of the kids learned something….” Vouchers wouldn't remove students from public schools that are adequately serving the kids in attendance, it would just provide an equal ground to all students to learn in an
    environment more suitable to their academic needs.

    What concerns me even more is the lack of culpability for private schools who receive vouchers. Transparency must be created in any institution that takes tax payer funds, and these schools must be held up to an equal standard and assessment process as public schools. I admit that I do not know what that standard would be with special needs students to consider, but I think it's time to discuss alternatives.

  • Jessica Horton
    Posted at 11:22h, 25 June Reply

    But that is just it Jason…. Gifted does qualify currently, but some programs are being whittled down to mere enrichment programs rather than providing the alternative instructional methods that gifted students truly require. Peanut allergies are actually the “disability” that are taken most seriously in your list of above special needs students. Perhaps because it's the only life threatening condition and therefore the one with the highest likelihood of litigious action if not dealt with appropriately. It would be ridiculous of course for those students to require special instruction in order to academically succeed, but if their school was not protecting the safety of their child, those parents should absolutely be allowed to take their dollars elsewhere.

    I never thought that I would be an advocate of private school vouchers, and I still have extreme reservations about public money being used at religious institutions as I have always felt that those two systems should never mix. However, I am more concerned about the lack of ability public schools have to meet the needs of all students. If educational excellence is what we seek, why just stop short of serving all? Why is it okay if we operate on the philosophy, “Well most of the kids learned something….” Vouchers wouldn't remove students from public schools that are adequately serving the kids in attendance, it would just provide an equal ground to all students to learn in an
    environment more suitable to their academic needs.

    What concerns me even more is the lack of culpability for private schools who receive vouchers. Transparency must be created in any institution that takes tax payer funds, and these schools must be held up to an equal standard and assessment process as public schools. I admit that I do not know what that standard would be with special needs students to consider, but I think it's time to discuss alternatives.

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