NOTE: This is the last in a series of posts responding to thoughts made by Eduwonk with respect to Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program for special needs children. Earlier articles by Ladner may be found here, here and here. -ed.
So, it is 4th and five from the 8-yard line with only seconds to go in the McKay debate. Both teams are exhausted from battling it out for four quarters. Eduwonk has a 6-point lead, but Ladner has the ball. Ladner makes a few last points before the whistle blows:
-Eduwonk’s claims that severe disability kids should be over-represented in McKay, but private schools specializing in high-end disabilities have their cost structures determined by the law-suit/outsourcing system of the status-quo (i.e. they may be built around $100k per year, while the McKay offers only a maximum of $21k per year or so). Given that children with severe disabilities are being served by McKay, just not over-served, this seems like a small problem rather than a horrible flaw.
-Eduwonk cites the special education meltdown in Washington D.C. as some sort of cautionary tale for McKay. I don’t get it. With 2,283 students costing the DCPS $118 million per year, the average tuition scored through the status-quo lawsuit system is a mind-boggling $51,000 per year. In the meantime, the entire state of Florida spent about $97,000,000 to give 15,910 students McKay Scholarships. In other words, Florida gave choice to about seven times as many students while spending 18% less. This doesn’t take into account all the litigation costs that DCPS must be enduring. Far from a cautionary tale against McKay, this is something DCPS should implement pronto to protect their budget from the deadly combination of rent-seeking