"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Saturday, January 23, 2010

All I Want For Christmas ...

It struck me today that perhaps I should be looking for a (belated) Christmas present.
The parents of students with autism or other developmental disabilities would have more choice and control over their children's education under legislation that received bipartisan support from Oklahoma lawmakers Tuesday.

The measure, which will be considered by the 2010 Legislature that convenes on Feb. 1, would qualify special needs students who have an individualized education program for a state-funded scholarship to attend any school accredited by the state Board of Education.

It would also expand the Self-Directed Care Program to provide greater benefits to developmentally disabled Oklahomans who receive state support.
Interestingly enough, the measure is said not to involve an increase in spending. Which is a good thing when Oklahoma faces a $729 million budget shortfall. Rather it would redirect how existing funds are spent to educate developmentally disabled students.

In fact, it's asserted that such "scholarship bills" for special needs students could save money for the state as well as parents by having state funds follow students and allowing their parents to place them in a school that best meets their educational needs. [I do believe that's what's known as "portability" ... too bad Nova Scotia couldn't figure it out.] Families will be provided a monthly budget and allowed to directly hire care staff. They can also use the program to get much needed respite care.

Save the government money while empowering parents to choose the best educational setting for their child? Sound too good to be true?

Nothing's ever that simple, is it?

It strikes me that some (at least in this country) might argue against such an approach on the basis that it runs counter to "inclusion". Although I would tend to think that giving parents (as opposed to school boards or government departments) the decision as to the best place for their child to attend school should alleviate a lot of that concern.

Supposedly we have something similar in Nova Scotia for students with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities. Notice I say "supposedly". That's because given the cost of some of the specialized schools in this province, the pitiful amount the government contributes makes it only a dream fantasy for many families.

Not exactly a scholarship, eh?

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