Have you used McKay Scholarship?

With the appointment of Betsy DeVos, as Secretary of Education, there has been a lot of interest around the country in Florida’s John McKay Scholarship.  COPAA is helping to gather information about a specific isssue.  They are looking for Florida parents who have tried the McKay Scholarship and who have returned to public school.  They want to speak to parents who fit in this category.  If you do and you are willing to talk to a researcher, please contact me at mkamleiter@flspedlaw.com.

In addition, read the following article.  The writer is also looking to interview people who have used the McKay.

What States Have Special Education Vouchers, And How Are They Working?

Donald-Trump-Betsy-DeVos-Florida-School-story-blog.jpgThis week I wrote an article about the idea of using federal special education money as vouchers for students with disabilities, which is currently seeing some high-placed support, including from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

To be sure, any sort of funding shift to a voucher would require a top-to-bottom Congressional overhaul of the 42-year-old Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. And the current federal contribution for special education averages out to only about $1,800 per student ages 3-21 with disabilities.

But both DeVos and President Donald Trump are strong supporters of school choice, with Trump specifically calling for a choice program for “disadvantaged” children during his address to a joint session of Congress. (It’s unclear whether students with disabilities would be included under the “disadvantaged” umbrella.)

State School Choice Programs for Students With Disabilities

Federal red tape, however, has not stopped individual states from offering their own choice programs, including vouchers and educational savings accounts. Twelve of 26 voucher programs nationwide are aimed specifically at students with disabilities, as are 3 of 5 educational savings account programs,  2 of 21 tax-credit scholarship programs, and 1 of 9 individual tax credits or deductions. (Also, nothing prevents a student with an individualized education program from taking advantage of any other choice program out there.)


Educational Savings Accounts

Tax-Credit Scholarships

Individual Tax Credit/Deductions

Thanks to Jason Bedrick, the director of policy at EdChoice, and EdChoice’s 2017 edition of The ABCs of School Choice for this information. 

How Well is School Choice Working for Students With Disabilities?

This is where you, the reader, come in. I can find out how many families are taking advantage of these programs. But what I don’t know is how well the programs are working for families. Are you able to access educational options that would have been unavailable to you otherwise? Has waiving your due process rights under the IDEA been a concern, or ultimately irrelevant? Is procuring a voucher easy or a bureaucratic hassle? And, most importantly‐do you feel that your children are learning more because these options are available?

I’d like to hear from parents for an article—I’d like to shift this discussion away from high-level Washington policymakers and down to the family level. Please email me at csamuels@epe.org if you’re willing to share your experiences, and share this request with others who might like to talk about their own situations. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Photo: President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos hold cards received from the children in a 4th-grade class during a tour of St. Andrew Catholic School on March 3, in Orlando, Fla. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, are at rear.—Alex Brandon/AP


6 thoughts on “Have you used McKay Scholarship?

  1. I am applying for the Mcay scholarship to consider a private school. My child has a reading deficit and I am very concerned about him passing state testing because of his disability. I feel he should not be penalized if he can’t do it. His reading disability is causing him to not be able to meet state standard and grade level curriculum. Why should he possibly retained because of his disability????

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mindy, I am sorry you have been faced with this. Retention is not the answer to reading deficits. It is punitive. The answer is a good diagnostic reading evaluation to pinpoint your child’s problem in reading and then implementation of a reading programs specifically targeting the specific areas of deficit. The solution for public schools is to give even more instruction time to the child, with a program, which has already been proven not to work. The answer is to demand a good diagnostic evaluation and then the appropriate reading curriculum.


      1. Thank you for the response. After doing some research as well this is exactly what I was told. At his eligibility meeting the school psychologist said they don’t do comprehensive reading evaluations and his ESE teacher maybe able to provide some assessments. I am not happy with that answer as I feel I need a trained test administrator. I am a speech and language pathologist so I am very familiar with standardized assessments. I contacted a private psychologist and will be meeting with her to find out more of his specific disability. After we find how to target it my plan is to reconvene at the IEP meeting and see if the district will provide the programs necessary for him to meet his needs. I am also meeting with private schools to see what they what other programs are available.


  2. Schools districts must do comprehensive reading evaluations, when asked to. They tend to do the DARs, which I find are often not that helpful, so your private assessment may be worth more. You do not say where you are, but we have a Speech Pathologist in our firm, who does excellent reading assessments. A “teacher” assessment is not usually sufficient. After all, if they knew what was wrong they would fix it, I would think.


    1. We are talking about Palm Beach County School District. When I asked about more reading components the psychologist said she does not do that ? Thought that was weird too. I asked about the DARS also and they seemed to act like that’s not given anymore and that the ESE teacher will provide more information. I know some SLP friends who have administered some reading assessments but I have not had the training to administer these things ( not yet ) Actually there are a lot of reading programs I and a lot of other SLPs would like to be trained in but then unfortunately we would be pulled in other directions instead of speech and language in the schools. I gave Brady a global language assessment out of curiousity and he scored very high. So I think private testing is what I have to do. I already sent the eval to a psychologist who specializes in dyslexia and reading to review. Will see what she says… Thanks for all the grest suggestions!


  3. Mindy, I think you are right. Reading the the key to almost all education, when a child struggle with reading, there will be a tendency to have drag in all academic work. The worst outcome is the child developing a distaste for reading – the door to so many worlds.


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