- K-12 Education
- Higher Education
- Who We Are
Students with disabilities have long had the right, under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to attend private schools at public expense if the public schools in their community are unable to provide them with appropriate special educational services. But less than 1 percent of students with disabilities have such private placements, in part because these placements can be costly, complicated, and time-consuming to obtain under the existing law.
Today, about 17,900 of
But despite its growing popularity, the McKay program has not yet proven that it works as either an adequate school-choice or special-education reform measure. Unlike with
Expanding school options for all students, those with disabilities and those without, is a worthy objective. But McKay's lack of accountability requirements and its minimal quality and service expectations make McKay a seriously flawed program. Under the current structure of the program, taxpayers have almost no knowledge of how their money is being spent, and neither taxpayers nor parents have access to solid information about the performance of different McKay schools. For parents, the stakes are very high, as they are required to give up their due process rights under IDEA if they choose to participate in the McKay program. Parents, taxpayers, and the state's special-needs children deserve better.
This research was funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. We thank them for their support but acknowledge that the findings and conclusions presented in this report are those of the author alone and do not represent the opinions of the foundation.