The headline reads – “New Times exposé forces McKay scholarship reform”. This has prompted legislators here in Florida to take a look at the McKay scholarship. There has been fraud and misuse; there is no doubt about that.
The real question now is how will they respond? Will they increase oversight on the how the scholarship money is being used? Will they put so many restrictions on it, that it becomes worthless or so hard to qualify for that no one will use it?
The McKay scholarship is primarily for students in public schools who have a disability. The scholarship allows the parent to remove the student from public school and place the child in a more appropriate private school environment.
Florida public schools have failed miserably when it comes to educating children with disabilities. The abuse and misuse of seclusion and restraint results in these children being physically and emotionally harmed. There were over 10,000 incidents of restraint in Florida in class rooms during the last school year.
Public schools in Florida have failed to provide proper and appropriate education for students with special needs. They routinely place them on a track to receive a “Special Diploma”. Translate into a “Worthless Diploma.”
The purpose of education is to educate. Florida schools typically warehouse students with disabilities until they can legally pass them out into society. These children, now adults, are unprepared and have no job or life skills.
The McKay scholarship was the one hope for many families. It was the one chance that their child could get an appropriate education.
Now that hope is in jeopardy. Scandal and budget shortages do not make a good match. The fixes that the legislature enacts to prevent fraud should not prevent parents from being able to readily and easily access the scholarship.
Any restrictions on the scholarship should not affect the intent. That being to allow children with disabilities to take their matrix money with them and attend a private school that will provide them with the education they need to be productive and successful adults.
Parents speak up and keep squeaking those wheels.