Reeves Threatens Voucher Expansion

Remember that special education voucher program that was supposed to help children with special needs? Well, here’s the truth about that hoax (and keep reading to see what Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is proposing now)…

The voucher program rules stack the deck against children with special needs, giving all the power to private voucher schools to exclude students they don’t want and to deny special education services to those they do admit.

As a result, less than half of the children who were given vouchers have used them, and loads of our state tax dollars that were set aside for that program have gone unused – funds that state law says should have gone to provide special education services to children in our public schools.

In the four years that the voucher program has existed, special education in public schools has been underfunded $102-million, nearly $30-million this school year alone. See chart.

To make matters worse, a recent investigation of the voucher program exposed fraud, program abuses, and a severe lack of accountability. More on that here.

This week, voucher lobbyists brought busloads of young children to the Capitol, wrapped them in yellow scarves, and had them wave signs at a “school choice” rally demanding even more money for the voucher program, claiming it’s needed for parents who are waiting for vouchers to pay their children’s private school tuition. The fact is that the voucher program has had far more than enough money leftover each year to clear any waiting list. Read why a waiting list could exist when there’s voucher money still unspent.

Despite all the unused voucher funds, Lt. Gov. Reeves, speaking at the school choice rally, said he intends to give even more of our tax dollars to the voucher program. Legislators have caught on to this voucher scam that subsidizes unaccountable private academies, so we believe Reeves and the privatizers may try an end run to get their money. We will need for your legislators to watch vigilantly for an attempt to sneak additional voucher funding into the K-12 appropriation bill, or other maneuvers to get more voucher dollars.

We will keep you posted as we learn more about efforts to divert the funds intended for special education in public schools to these private voucher schools.

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