chI am deeply ambivalent about vouchers. Why? Two:
- Because I believe that all systems can be gamed.
- Because as an experienced board member of private schools, I'm not sure how we woud respond to vouchers.* (that means, go down to the very bottom of the post)
Let's turn now to Florida, which has a voucher system in place for kids with learning disabilities, called "Mckay Vouchers". Oops. There have been a couple of trainwrecks. Now there is a new one.
The short version is that Chavon Peoples is accused of misappropriating McKay grants to the tune of $400,000 for personal gain. Such as: " time-share condominium in Orlando, travel, formal wear and a TIVO digital TV recorder for her personal use"
The school she defrauded, Success Academy Christian School, does not appear to have a website.
According to the JSO and the Duval County School Board, between the 2002-2003 school year and the 2004-2005 school year, 52 students at Success Academy who received scholarship funds actually attended public schools.
The JSO says all of the faulty checks were signed and withdrawn by Peoples. The JSO says numerous checks were written out to the suspect, the suspect's husband, and to cash.
So here's the blurb from the Florida state website for educational scholarships
The 2001 Florida Legislature passed a law that improves Florida’s scholarship program for children with disabilities. Already the nation’s largest K-12 tuition voucher program, with over 340,000 children eligible, the program was made more workable for both families and schools.
The John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities program is named for former Senate President John McKay, R-Bradenton, who is the parent of a child with disabilities and a longtime proponent of school choice and programs to help disabled children.
The program gives families who are not satisfied with their child’s progress in the assigned public school the option to enroll their child in a different public school, or to obtain a scholarship to a private school of choice. Students with disabilities include K-12 students who are mentally handicapped, speech and language impaired, or hard of hearing, visually impaired, dual sensory impaired, physically impaired, emotionally handicapped, specific learning disabled, hospitalized or homebound, or autistic.
Florida Isn't A Desert of Hope for Parents
Charter Schools in Florida for Dyslexics
*OK, some hypotheticals:
- Our private school's tuition is $10,000, and we admit Abel Baker with is $6,000 voucher from XYZ school district in Year One. We agree to subsidize the Baker family with $4,000 from our scholarship/financial aid fund Then the Baker family moves to ABC school district in year Two, with their $4,000 voucher. We have to raise $2,000 more in financial aid money....or reduce the amount we offer to another family. Or tell the Baker family they have to come up with another $2,000.
- Accepting the voucher money means that our school, which is in a leased facility, has to meet all federal ADA accessiblity criteria, to the tune of $250,000. We have a 3 year lease on the facility, and the landlord isn't interested in making the improvements. Are we going to accept any voucher applicant?
- Repeat ad infinitem, any way you want to play it out.