• Tim Keller
    Former Senior Attorney

Special Needs Vouchers Aid Children and Promote Excellence

In the previous article, Dr. Corinne Harmon responds to my analysis of the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision in Cain v. Horne (Keller, 2009) that struck down two voucher programs for students with special needs—one for children with disabilities and the other for children in foster care. Harmon believes my constitutional analysis is in error because private schools receive a financial benefit from voucher programs (Harmon, 2010). In reply, I briefly explain that just because private schools receive some incidental financial benefit from a voucher program does not undermine their constitutionality so long as the program provides aid directly to families and does so with the intent to benefit children and not private schools. Harmon also asserts that, as a matter of policy, voucher programs result in a loss of federally guaranteed rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In reality, voucher programs expand and supplement existing rights under IDEA and result in greater accountability to students and increased parental satisfaction (Greene & Forster, 2003).

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Massachusetts law makes a guarantee to students with special needs: No matter who you are, or where you go to school, you are entitled to special education and related services. It is part of the…