Parents of special education children who have been denied needed services in public schools may be hoping that Gov. Greg Abbott will lead the way to a solution. They better think again.
Abbott finally made some public comments on the state’s illegal cap on special education services – three months after news of it broke – and gave every indication of being utterly clueless about what to do about it.
Instead of vowing to address the crux of the problem by boosting state funding for under-funded special education programs and public schools in general, the governor announced plans to squeeze even more money out of school kids, including those in special education.
First, he proposed further cuts in the business franchise tax, an important source of revenue for education and other state services. He promoted and signed a significant reduction in that same tax two years ago, assuring that schools would remain under-funded and special education services would be limited. But Abbott’s short-sightedness about addressing crucial state needs apparently is unlimited.
And, topping that off, the governor suggested that diverting existing school funds to private school vouchers also could help special education families. As the Houston Chronicle, which reported the governor’s comments, noted, “it was not clear how such a program would work or how it would address the problems” caused by the Texas Education Agency’s 12-year-old cap on special education enrollments.
It wasn’t clear how it would work because it wouldn’t work.
Vouchers wouldn’t come close to meeting the costs of special education services in private schools, meaning that the vast majority of special education students would remain in public schools, whose special education programs would be further undermined by the diversion of tax dollars.
Also, there are no guarantees that the state would hold private schools accountable for their state funds or prohibit them from arbitrarily cherry-picking among students.
Anybody who wants the governor to take the lead in realistically addressing the needs of Texas’ special education children – beginning with more funding for public school programs – had been start contacting his office because, so far, he doesn’t seem to get it.
Here’s his contact information: