Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Are you Pro-Choice?

No, not that pro-choice...

This article
on a Dallas/Fort Worth TV station's website, talks about a proposal to offer school vouchers to parents of children with autism. The plan would give the parents the choice of either keeping their kids in the public school or placing them in a private school of their choice. The amount of the voucher would almost certainly not cover the amount charged by the private school. But it might make the difference for some families in being able to attend such schools.

As it stands in my locale, we have the choice of sending our son to a public school, or paying ourselves (about $30,000/yr or more) for private school. Some students are sent to the private schools by the public school system, with total payment made by the public school system. This only happens when it is proven that the public school cannot provide an appropriate education (which means that the public school never initiates placement in a private school, and usually a protracted and expensive legal fight is necessary in order to get the public school to ante up the money).

Sometimes parents preemptively pull their kids out of the public school and place them in the private school while they are also undergoing the legal wrangling necessary in order to get the public school to pay. This is not an option for most, however, as the double costs of the private school as well as the legal fight rapidly become staggering to all but the most well heeled.

I think that, in general (there are some exceptions), the public schools are terribly failing to educate children on the autism spectrum. There is no will, and no money, in the public school system to institute the kinds of therapies and supports that our kids need.

I don't think that a voucher program is a cure all. But if they took the money that they budgeted for special ed kids (say, 1.5X the average amount budgeted for the general education students) and let the parents apply that money somewhere else, it might make a meaningful difference to many families.

Joe is 210

1 comment:

kristina said...

This is a topic we know too well---went through it in 2005. In hindsight, wish we had thown out bets into the ring earlier---Charlie barely got out of his old public school placement before it was "too late."