Why We Need The Special Needs Scholarship For Our Kids

From today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Submitted by Susan Giaimo of Wauwatosa, Kristen Glaser of Waukesha, Sandy Krause of Wauwatosa, Josh and Katie Madlung of Whitefish Bay, Dani Rossa of Milwaukee and Kim Schippers of Hartford.

As parents of children with special needs, we know that every one of our children is extremely different. That is why we view with great skepticism groups that purport to speak for all parents of children with special needs even though they and their experiences are all unique.

For example, such parents recently published an op-ed in the Journal Sentinel suggesting that because their children with special needs have had a wonderful public school experience, they see no reason for parents like us, who reside in school districts that are failing our children, to have access to the special needs scholarships recently proposed by Sen. Leah Vukmir and Rep. John Jagler, himself a parent of a child with special needs.

When parents like us who work within the system and submit an open enrollment application so that our children can go to a neighboring public school district are denied that access to a free appropriate public education, we should be given more options. While the experts have been promising parents like us fixes to the discriminatory open enrollment system for decades, we have yet to see an actual proposal.

But we have read and support a different proposal that, instead of vague promises of future fixes, delivers options to us immediately: the special needs scholarship. The scholarship would allow parents of children with special needs, who were denied an effort to open enroll their children in a neighboring public school district, the opportunity to have their children educated in a charter, private or different public school.

Read the entire Op-ed here.