In the debate, much time was devoted to the candidates' differing strategies to improve education and choice for students and parents. Romney has advocated turning Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) into a voucher program. Next to health care reform and Medicaid, this may be the most important issue in this election for people with disabilities. The Romney camp argues that vouchers will give families more choice and reward good schools; the Obama camp agrees with the concept of choice, but are concerned about removing the protections that the federal law currently provide.
As background, I recommend these two articles by Nirvi Shah, who does a great job reporting on special education issues for Education Week. Keep up on this and other special ed issues by following her "On Special Education" blog.
Read "Details of Romney's School Choice Plan Emerge," May 24, 2012. Excerpt:
"Many advocacy groups warn parents against using vouchers for students with disabilities because, in doing so, they give up their rights outlined in federal education and disability laws. And they may not know that.
" 'We have to remember that a family with a child who has a disability never really has the same choice as others. By virtue of having a disability that qualifies them for an Individualized Education Program, a private school for instance, would never guarantee via a voucher that they would provide a free appropriate public education and the services outlined in the IEP,' said Laura Kaloi of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Shah cites an article from the Atlantic by a parent and attorney who says "there's already a system of vouchers built in: Schools that believe they can't provide the right educational services and environment a student needs can choose to send that student to a private school, at the public school's expense. It's called private placement."