Palin’s Project: Special Needs Kids and School Choice

As most people know, Governor Sarah Palin has a special needs kid and she often spoke about it later in the campaign as a project for the future McCain administration, which never came. This started the link between school choice and these special needs kids. When people think of private schools they often think that these kids are going to be the ones left behind.

The National Review article by John J. Miller highlighted this and a former Florida legislator John McKay, who is also in this position. This is an important addition to the school choice debate. Most people would say that if a special needs kid could find a place in a private institution, then anyone could. They are often the hardest to monitor and “needs” the most.

John McKay tried everything when it came to his special needs daughter. Governor Jeb Bush passed the only approach left which was vouchers for kids with special needs. Today, every special needs kid in Florida is eligible for a scholarship that averages around $7,000 to use in either a public or private school. This basically means that the funding for taking care of these special needs kids are going right where it is suppose to, not funneled through the administration and so on down the line. So we know school choice works…

If we had a complete free market private system, would there be schools for these kids? The answer would be yes. We could imagine that there would be all kinds of schools with different ranges of tuition. This not only goes for special needs kids but also poor kids. Say you have three different tiers of schools:

  1. A = $15,000/year but gets you into Ivy League.
  2. B = $10,000/year and top kids go to Ivy while lower go to top non-Ivy.
  3. C = $5,000/year and top kids go to top non-Ivy and lower go to regular.
  4. D = $2,500/year and top kids go to college and bottom go into workforce or trade school.

When you looking at these prices you must realize you will be getting all of your tax money and that if you kid is bright then he will recieve private scholarships to move up in higher schools. The schools have an interest in raising the amount of smart people in its’ institution.

When it comes to special education kids, they would probably have specialized teachers who do not need to know about the Trojan War, but do need to know how to handle someone with autism. Even if we assume that training would cost the same, then at least it would be more focused.

Currently, at George Mason University you can send your special needs kid to college and I am sure it isn’t free.


Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 12:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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