Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush defended his state's McKay Scholarship program in Time magazine, against the claim that disabled students who use it lose federal protections.
The New York Times wrote in April that "when students use vouchers to get into private school, they lose most of the protections of the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act."
Tamiko Walker, whose disabled son got a scholarship from the program, told the Times, "Once you take those McKay funds and you go to a private school, you're no longer covered under IDEA — and I don't understand why."
According to Bush, "This concern never rose to my desk when I was governor. And if it has become one, it should be resolved in a way that provides parents with a full understanding of the scholarship program before entering it and of every single right their child has. But the notion that more than 31,000 parents are somehow being misled into making wrong decisions for their children simply is not credible."
The former Republican presidential candidate cited a study from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, "taken in the early years of the program showed overwhelming satisfaction with their chosen schools. The reasons were predictable. Their children were in much smaller classes with fewer behavior problems. There were drastic reductions in bullying and physical assaults.
"And as far as the IDEA is concerned, only 30 percent of parents said their children received all services required under federal law from their public schools, while an overwhelming 86 percent reported their McKay schools provided all the services that were promised.
"I will never believe that empowering families with their acknowledged right to oversee their children's education is bad for families. Nor can I believe that in all the Times' reporting, not one parent could be found whose child is flourishing in a McKay school," Bush concluded.
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