A recent column claimed education choice trades accountability for flexibility. In fact, choice boosts accountability for parents and taxpayers.
Education savings accounts allow families to use a portion of the state’s education spending for private school tuition, special needs services, tutoring, therapy, and more instead of enrolling in public schools.
ESAs empower parents and create real competition, which has defenders of the status quo trembling.
The anti-educational choice crowd’s latest salvo is that students with special needs will have to give up their rights if they utilize ESAs. The Individuals with Disability Education Act guarantees public schools provide Free Appropriate Public Education to students with special needs. Importantly, this right to an education is not a right to the best possible education.
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Affluent families can already pursue the best education for their special needs children; families without similar resources cannot. Their only recourse when local schools aren’t delivering quality is the expensive and time-consuming IDEA appeal process. ESAs can level the playing field by empowering parents of any means with a whole new world of opportunities.
Education choice isn’t just a nice theory. It helps real families solve real problems. In Arizona’s ESA program for special needs students, 90 percent of parents were satisfied or very satisfied, compared to 29 percent satisfaction with their former public schools.
If a child isn’t thriving, ESAs empower parents to choose a different option. That is true accountability.
Colleen Hroncich, Grove City
The writer is a senior fellow at the Commonwealth Foundation