Heartland Applauds Georgia's Special-Needs Voucher Bill

April 23, 2007
Robert Holland

"The Georgia legislature's passage of a voucher program that gives parents of disabled students the option to choose a private school adds momentum to one of the most positive trends in education policy-making.

"It all began in 1999 with a pilot program in Florida involving two disabled students. That project evolved into the John M. McKay Scholarships, which now help more than 17,000 special-needs children attend private schools in Florida. Next came passage of scholarships for autistic children in Ohio in 2003, the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarships in Utah in 2005, Arizona's approval of a Scholarship for Pupils with Disabilities in 2006, and now Georgia in 2007. (Earlier this year, Utah enacted a program that makes virtually all of its schoolchildren eligible for vouchers.)

"The growing use of special-needs vouchers recognizes (as the Georgia bill states) 'parents are best equipped to make decisions for their children, including the educational setting that will best serve their interests and educational needs.' Despite opposition from those with a vested interest in preserving an iron-clad government monopoly over K-12 education, this movement is likely to continue to gather steam. Additional bills to create scholarship programs for disabled children are pending in several other states."