Paying for Students with Disabilities

Oh Jesus Christmas this is totally preventable:

Choice schools receive half of the $6,442 voucher amount for any students who make it past the third Friday of September, when enrollment is tallied, whether or not they complete the year, according to the DPI’s Gasper. Choice schools get the second half for any students who are there on the second Friday in January, when there is a second enrollment count.

Some advocates say this creates an incentive for them to accept students they can’t fully serve.

“We have seen that children with behavioral issues are signed into a voucher school and once they get past the third Friday — the Kodak moment for determining headcount — there’s a phenomenon that occurs that students are no longer able to participate in the private school,” said Myrah, with the Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services.

Okay. So let’s pretend here that school vouchers are the best thing ever. How hard is it to build into the system a rule that says the school gets the funds at the end of the year instead of the beginning, and only if the school doesn’t kick the kid down the road? It can’t be that administratively burdensome to base the amount of money the state hands out not only on the number of students but the amount of time they’re actually in the school.

Of course, that would presume this is about actually helping students and not about funnelling public money to private and religious schools at the expense of adequately funding the public system.

I have to say, as a graduate of Catholic schools, where it was drilled into me that we care for the least valued among us, etc etc, widow and orphan and homeless etc, seeing Catholic schools punt kids with special needs to the curb because OMG EXPENSIVE is particularly galling.

Look, everybody’s got a horror story:

At Hickman Academy in Milwaukee, where all of the students this year were on vouchers, the school cannot afford a psychologist, speech therapist or special education teachers, said the school secretary, Nicole Johnson. Because the school does not turn away students with disabilities, problems can arise during the school year.

Making matters more difficult, Johnson said, some parents don’t tell the school about their children’s disabilities, because they don’t want them to be treated differently.

“So when we get the children and start working with them, a month or two of school goes by, and we start to see the problems, and see we need to get some help for these children — something is wrong,” Johnson said.

Did anyone, at any stage of this voucher program, NOT think students with disabilities would be enrolling in private schools? Did anyone NOT expect it? Come on. Schools had to know this was coming. Can’t pay the teachers or provide the instruction? Don’t participate in a program with which you have no hope of complying. And don’t give the schools that ARE doing their best to meet the needs of all children a bad name.


5 thoughts on “Paying for Students with Disabilities

  1. In Ohio, charter schools are paid 100% if a student is enrolled into the 2nd week of October of the school year .
    Ohio Governor Kasich and his super majority republican controlled legislature call this system pro-family. These are the same political hacks who cynically call their recently passed anti-women legislation pro-life.

  2. Funny how quickly “faster, better, cheaper” becomes “but we didn’t think [insert excuse here].”

  3. Of course not, because the twee idle rich just don’t have children with disabilities. Those get shipped off first thing and the Good Schools don’t have to deal with them. So they can’t conceive of the notion that some of the dirty filthy working people and their disgusting crippled offspring might be in their Good Schools. So begone, wretches!

  4. Gov Walker and his cronies wouldn’t bother their beautiful minds with such trivialities as considering the difficulties of special needs kids in voucher schools because they don’t care. For them the true purpose of the program is to starve the public schools of funding, particularly Milwaukee public schools.

  5. Here in MA where the charter school thing is just starting people routinely pull their kids out of private school and send them to public school to gain access to the top quality specialists that they need but can’t access in private school. Private schools don’t/won’t give speech or other therapy to the kids they have on board. On the other hand the crushing burden of mainstreaming services is killing some school systems.

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