In North Carolina, proposed House Bill 269 would award a $3,000 grant per semester for students with disabilities to attend any nonpublic school and to receive special education and related services. Multiple criteria must be met.  The NC State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) will receive $3,670,500 from the general fund for FY 2013-14 and $4,341,000 for FY 2014-15 to implement the requirements of this Act.

In Wisconsin, parents of students with disabilities are against such proposed legislation, reasoning that private schools that accept vouchers cannot provide the same level of services as public schools.

by Colleen Flaherty

Joanne Juhnke is concerned for Wisconsin families like hers. She has two elementary-aged daughters in the Madison public schools who call each other “BFF.” Her youngest child has significant learning disabilities, and with a budget proposal from the governor that flat-lines funding for public schools, her neighborhood public schools would face even more struggles to provide adequate resources for her child and other special needs students across the state.

In February, Gov. Scott Walker issued his proposed budget that provides $0 per pupil funding increases for public school students but increases taxpayer funding for private voucher school students by $1,400 each. This comes on the heels of his last budget, which made the largest cuts to education in Wisconsin history.

In an education budget proposal that directs almost $100 million more taxpayer dollars to private schools, what Juhnke finds particularly troubling is the $21 million expansion for special needs vouchers, which takes tax-payer money to fund the education of individual students with disabilities at private schools. In response, Juhnke, teachers and parents across Wisconsin have formed Stop Special Needs Vouchers to combat this damaging budget proposal.

“These vouchers are wrong for our students and wrong for Wisconsin,” said Juhnke. “The major concern has to do with what public schools have to provide that the private schools who would accept the vouchers would not have to provide.”

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