Explore both sides of the school voucher debate. Learn what your options are, how those choices are funded and the impact on your local school district. From the latest government initiatives to results from recent studies, explore vouchers and the options they provide.
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Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of public school vouchers as they pertain to the education of students with disabilities.
In an effort to provide families with a disabled child more choices with regard to their child’s education, some cities and states have implemented school voucher programs that provide taxpayer assistance to pay for a child’s private school education. Doing so, supporters say, gives special needs children an opportunity to get a high-quality education at a school their families may not otherwise be able to afford. Yet, detractors of such programs maintain that private schools are not held to the same standard as public schools when it comes to providing special education services. Specifically, some parents worry about the implementation – or lack thereof – of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in private school settings.
What is IDEA?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal law that governs what public schools must do to meet the needs of children with disabilities. As mandated by IDEA, students with disabilities are guaranteed a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Essentially, this means that public schools must make necessary accommodations such that students with physical, mental, developmental or emotional disabilities can learn with the same degree of ease as regular education students. These accommodations can vary widely, from more time to take a test to having specialized technologies or classrooms made available for students with disabilities.
Accommodations for disabled students are outlined in the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which also includes educational goals and summarizes how a student will engage in the regular curriculum. The
In Indiana, a voucher program is up and running and changing the face of public education in the state.
Voucher programs have become a hot topic of debate at school districts across the country, but Indiana is one of the first states to truly see firsthand how a voucher program can impact the scope of public and private school. This state is home to the most expansive voucher program in the nation, with more than 250 religious or private schools currently approved for the program. While more than 3,000 students statewide are expected to reap the benefits of the Indiana voucher program this year, not everyone is thrilled with the idea of taking tax dollars out of public schools to fund private education. With two sides to this hot-button issue, we’ll explore the full realm of state voucher programs, including how this particular program is changing the face of public and private education in Indiana.
Details of the Voucher Program
According to a recent report at U.S. Catholic, the Indiana voucher program passed the state legislature in the spring of this year, and since that time, around 250 private and religious schools have been approved by the state to participate in the program. This means that approved schools can admit students on scholarship, based on the family’s income levels. Scholarship money comes from the tax dollars that would normally be spend on public schooling. The equivalent of the per-pupil tax dollars goes directly to the family to be used to pay tuition and fees at the approved private school of the family’s choice, rather than going
Learn about the raging debate surrounding utilizing tax-funded vouchers to give students the freedom to choose their own public or private education -- and whether vouchers are indeed destroying the foundation of America's public schools.
School vouchers have been a controversial debate among community members and educators for more than a decade – and there are no signs of the debate simmering.
Vouchers are essentially a form of “tax scholarship” for public school students, wherein the educational tax (which typically is given directly to public schools) can be used to pay for alternative forms of education. With the voucher approach, taxes allow parents to send their children to a school of their choice; in fact, this money can even be used for private schools.
While many parents and educators believe that vouchers give students the freedom to seek out better educational opportunities, other individuals and experts assert that vouchers simply deprive struggling schools from receiving much needed funding for improvement. With this great debate, one must question: are vouchers destroying or saving our public schools?
How Do Vouchers Work?As public schools rely upon tax dollars for funding, each student who attends a public school is “worth” a certain amount of tax dollars. Each public school district or county is provided with a different “tax worth” for their students, which is determined in elections by community members.
For example, “District A” schools may receive $5,000 per student (annually), while “District B” may only be provided with $4,000 per student (annually). If “District A” is provided with more money and funding for each student, then “District A” is able to hire more teachers, buy more supplies, gain greater technologies, and spend more on enhancing the school.
In a voucher system,
Learn more about the debate behind private school vouchers and whether they are a viable public school alternative for your child.
Stirring up a raging political, social, and economic debate, the issues of school vouchers is a hot topic among community leaders, members, and educators. School vouchers, which essentially work like a scholarship, allow parents to redirect the trajectory of educational funding. Instead of applying tax dollars to schools directly, vouchers allow tax money to be sent to individual families. With this approach, parents and families can choose how their educational tax money is spent, allowing students to attend private or public schools, as the tax money can be used to pay for private tuition costs.
For proponents, vouchers offer students in failing schools access to greater educational opportunities in private schools. On the other side of the debate, many experts assert that vouchers, in the larger spectrum, will cause far more harm than good.
Vouchers and the Current State of Student Funding
While vouchers are still a relatively new concept and practice, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin approved of its state’s voucher-program in 1998, which supported family-ownership of educational tax funds for approximately 15,000 children. With this private funding, children can choose from either public, private, or religious schools. This verdict was appealed to the United States Supreme Court after its passing, but the judges of the Supreme Court voted to not hear the appeal; therefore, Wisconsin has been able to continue its voucher approach to education for nearly a decade.
Today, similar to Wisconsin, many states continually offer vouchers as potential alternatives for school funding on election-issue ballots; as this issue comes to local and state-wide community
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