Dan Patrick Offers Vouchers as Solution to Special Ed Failures

Feb 21, 2017 by

by Christopher Hooks –

You might say the true test of a politician’s character is what they do when there aren’t any investigative reporters around, but, failing that, what they do after one does show up. With that in mind, let’s check in again with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s office for another fun chapter in Accountability and the Texas Legislature, a growing tome that serves as the opposite of a self-help book.

One of the most striking stories in the run-up to this year’s legislative session was the Houston Chronicle’s look into how the state treats special ed students. (The Observer also reported on the story in January 2016.) In short, in 2004, as part of yet another round of budget cuts, the Texas Education Agency established an arbitrarily low benchmark — 8.5 percent of students — for how many special needs kids each school district should serve. It worked as a cap, each year railroading tens of thousands of families who, in any other state, would have been able to get their kids into special ed.

In the weeks after the revelations, Patrick expressed outrage, casting the problem in stark moral terms. “If a student feels, a family feels they need a better opportunity, they should have that right,” he said. “And especially, students with disabilities and autism, to be trapped in a school that can’t help you get over a disability, is a sin. And we’re going to stand up for that community.”

Wait, I got my notes mixed up. That’s from a speech Patrick gave to Republican activists in 2012. He wasn’t talking about improving the way public schools treat special needs students, he was talking about the need to give them vouchers. Vouchers, which allow parents to use state funding for private-school tuition, have been Patrick’s No. 1 passion since he first won office. Time after time, he’s hyped them as the catch-all solution to the lack of access to quality special education.

Source: Dan Patrick Offers Vouchers as Solution to Special Ed Failures that He Helped Create

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