What child does not have special needs?

We were gratified recently to learn of the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account program. This provides a debit card that accesses a bank account funded by the state government that can be used to pay educational expenses. This sounds exactly like the ComingTogether Plan’s Education Benefit, although it is being provided at the state level rather than the federal level.

It is a start, but it does not go far enough. It is only for students with special needs, students at poor-performing public schools, foster children and students in active-duty military families. Our question is, “What child does not have special needs?” Every child is special, and to develop their special talents or overcome their special difficulties, the parents should be free to choose the type of educational tools and educational programs used in raising their children.

Opponents argue that there is less public oversight when education is provided by private sources. It pains me to think there are people who think that is the goal, rather than getting the best possible education for our children. And we can rest assured that most education providers other than public schools have better oversight than public schools because, like any private business, their customers can take their money and go somewhere else if they are not happy with the services received. Furthermore, I would expect public schools to improve because they would have to face the same scrutiny as private providers do. Right now, in most states, they are the monopoly provider of low cost education.

This type of program is a great leveler of opportunity. Those that cannot afford private schools generally have only one choice for the source of their children’s education. Those well off enough to be able to afford private school, private lessons, tutors, etc. have an advantage. Why not extend that advantage to all families?

My source for information on this program was the Wall Street Journal article “Schooling on a ‘Debit Card’” (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304819004579490120210688350?mod=djemTEW_h&mg=reno64-wsj) by Erica E. Phillips, April 16, 2014.

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