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How We Can Continue to Protect Special Education

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I am concerned about the state of education in the United States if the current Cabinet pick is an indication of the values the federal government holds, especially with regards to special education. The current nominee is trying to champion giving states rights in regards to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which is a federal mandate that legally guarantees protection for a free and appropriate education for students with disabilities.

Here in New Jersey, we are extremely fortunate to have some of the best public schools in the country. We have consistently ranked among the top states for education when ranked nationally. What about those other states that already have failing programs for students with disabilities? People relocate all the time to try to find the best school district for their child, but no family with a child with a disability should have to relocate to a different state in order to get the services their child requires, which are now protected by federal law.

Espousing school choice or voucher programs as a fix to parents who feel that their child is not receiving a fair education takes away resources from public schools that are already operating under strained budgets. I believe we should be working to improve our public schools rather than putting a superficial Band-Aid on them in the form of vouchers and school choice options. Also, if it is assumed that parents would be able to send their children to a private school specializing in special education using vouchers or school choice, there is a price tag upwards of $50,000 that most home districts cannot afford for every case.

I believe continuing to put the most resources possible into improving public schools for children with disabilities will do the most to aid parents in obtaining a quality education for their child.

Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

This letter previously appeared in the Courier Post.

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