Let's suppose you are one of the growing number of parents whose child has been affected by autism. Imagine having the sensation that each and every one of your waking moments is dedicated to coping with this tremendous challenge as you provide your child with the necessary support in order to get through the day. And all the while, you hold out hope that through the proper therapy your child will be able to one day lead a normal life.
Now imagine that you are the superintendent of a small school district. As the steward of the taxpayers' resources, you are required to provide an education to all children, but because your school district is small in size and because there is an overwhelming number of state and federal mandates, it is very challenging to provide a quality education to the general population and it is extremely difficult to provide the type of education that children with special needs, such as autism, require.
This was the challenge recently faced by the parents and one of the school districts in Logan County.
Due to the various federal requirements, small school systems have an enormous burden to provide care to special needs students. However, because of the demands placed on the local educational system, it may be nearly impossible for them to have the resources to provide this care in a manner that takes advantage of the latest therapy methods and really helps those students on the road to recovery.
I feel this is unfair to the parents of the special needs children because their tax dollars are being taken by an education system that is challenged to provide a quality product. It can also be unfair to the other students in the school system because the lack of focused resources can take away from their education.
I believe this is a problem that should be solved by school choice. Let's refund the tax dollars of those parents with special needs so they can invest that money in the very specialized treatment that their children need. Instead of forcing them to attend a school system that simply cannot meet their needs, they should be allowed to take advantage of the resources offered by those who are experts in the necessary treatment. Because of the increased efficiency of the private education market, I suspect that the result would be a lower cost to the taxpayers.
Last week I wrote an article explaining how "one size fits all" does not work in the health insurance industry. After writing that article, an individual who is experienced in working with special needs children responded by making the point that neither does "one size fits all" work when it comes time to provide education services. She is exactly right. Children with special needs should be treated by those who understand those needs.
Another constituent contact I have benefited from has been an individual whose family has been affected by autism. Instead of letting that experience discourage them, they are working hard to open a clinic to treat autism using the latest treatment methods. These types of private sector solutions can provide an enormous service to children with special needs, while relieving the public school system of a tremendous challenge.