Jim Wooten is expressing his support for Senate Bill 10.
There’s nothing radical about the bill, the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act. It would give choice — and the state and federal money being used to educate them — to parents to buy the special education services their child needs. They could spend the money, expected to average about $9,000, in the private sector or in another public school system. If parents are content with the services the public school is providing, they are free to remain. It’s honest-to-goodness choice.
But the scholarships threaten because they are seen as a precursor to a full-scale voucher offering — something I support, but, as Johnson pointed out, key Republicans, including State School Superintendent Kathy Cox, don’t. (Johnson acknowledges that he supports a broader use of vouchers than the bill could be accused of offering.)
“There’s nothing dirty about the v-word,” Johnson asserted. “Somebody decided vouchers are bad for public education, but it’s not bad” for the HOPE voucher program, which on Thursday was being celebrated by Gov. Sonny Perdue and former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller for having aided a million Georgians to attend college. Nor is voucher a dirty word when public funds are used to buy pre-k services from public and private providers, he noted. Nor was it when used to send GIs to college after military service. Medicaid is a voucher, he said. And food stamps. And vouchers exist, too, for housing.
It’s acceptable, therefore, to offer vouchers that give people a choice of food, medical care. Pre-k is acceptable, too, and post-high school. But not in between. Only about 5 percent of Georgia’s special needs children are likely to take scholarship — or voucher, depending on what you call the HOPE stipend.
Why is choice so important in issues like abortion, but when it comes to something like education it is shunned? If you want to send your child to the local public school.
Groups like the GAE and PAGE say there is no accountability in a possible voucher program, even one on a small scale like special needs children. Such a statement is simply not true. You are using the market to pick the school best suited for your child, if the school doesn’t meet the needs, then the option to change is on the table. These groups are simply afraid that it will succeed.
SB 10 is a step in the right direction, as is Casey Cagle’s plan to expand charter schools. Let parents decide where their tax dollars go. Let them choose the school. Let them make the decisions that are important to their family.
Last year, John Stossel did a report on education in the United States called Stupid in America, I encourage you to watch it and look at our educational system.