School Choice

Government-Run Schools Hurt the Learning Disabled Most of All

By analogy, food stamps recipients shouldn't be forced to shop at state-run supermarkets.


Libertarian businessman Bob Luddy is building private schools for the masses, where the average annual tuition is a mere $5,500. (Watch the video.) Parents are voting with their feet, opting to pay tuition rather than send their kids to "free" government schools.

One of several ways Thales manages to spend about 40 percent less per pupil than North Carolina's public schools is by not serving kids with severe learning disabilities, who require services that are impossible to deliver at a $5,500 price point. This is the most controversial aspect of its approach; one commenter reacted to our Thales video on Twitter by stating that this policy is "really all you need to know about the far right's education model."

Screwing those most in need is actually a hallmark of traditional public schools, and disabled children are the biggest victims of the government's near monopoly on K-12 education. Thales isn't a good fit for some kids for all kinds of reasons, but it's also a model that frees up state resources for school vouchers that make it possible for kids in need of extra services to afford private school.

Thales Academy |||

Yes, children with learning disabilities will often need taxpayer assistance. But by analogy—to paraphrase Milton Friedman—food stamp recipients shouldn't be forced to shop at government-operated supermarkets.

"One of the weaknesses of the modern public school system is that it tries to be all things to all people," says Terry Stoops, who's the director of education studies at North Carolina's John Locke Foundation. Learning disabled children, in particular, are poorly served when "grouped under one moniker," says Stoops, because different kids often require vastly different types of services.

North Carolina (like Ohio and Florida) has a school voucher program for disabled children. It currently serves 828 families who receive annual scholarships of about $8,000. (Stoops would like to see the program significantly expanded and the funding level increased.) Parents have plenty of options to find the perfect fit for their children—recipients of the disabilities grant currently spend their vouchers at 167 different private schools in North Carolina.

What happens in places that have no disability vouchers? Take New York City, where learning disabled students tend to be so poorly served that middle-class families often send them to private school and then sue the city for reimbursement on the grounds that their needs aren't being met.

They almost always win; as of 2016, there were 4,100 families getting tuition reimbursement. That number would be much higher if this strategy wasn't almost exclusive to upper-middle-class families, who have the means to front the money for attorney's fees and a year of tuition as their cases are adjudicated. What's that again about the "far right's education model?"

Watch "A Libertarian Builds Low-Cost Private Schools for the Masses."

National School Choice Week, an annual event promoting the ability of parents and students to have greater options in K-12 education, runs from January 22 through January 28. Over 21,000 events involving almost 17,000 schools from all 50 states will take place over the coming days. Go here to get more information about events and data about how increasing school choice–charters, vouchers, educational savings accounts, and more–is one of the best ways to improve education for all Americans. As a proud media sponsor of National School Choice Week, Reason will be publishing daily articles, podcasts, videos, interviews, and other coverage exploring the ways in which education is being radically altered and made better by letting more people have more choices when it comes to learning. For a constantly updated list of stories, go to Reason's archive page on "school choice."

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  1. Government-Run Schools Hurt the Learning Disabled Most of All

    can you make someone *extra* retarded? I thought that was only in California

    1. H&R seems to be working on you.

  2. “My Child Is An Honor Student At Harrison Bergeron Memorial Elementary School” bumperstickers are handed out to every student on the first day of class at my neighborhood school.

  3. Those bumper stickers are so fucking stupid. All of you parents that have one like that should be ashamed of yourselves.

  4. What happens in places that have no disability vouchers? Take New York City, where learning disabled students tend to be so poorly served that middle-class families often send them to private school and then sue the city for reimbursement on the grounds that their needs aren’t being met.

    They almost always win; as of 2016, there were 4,100 families getting tuition reimbursement.

    See, the system works.

  5. As I’d said on an earlier thread, the No Child Left Behind crap is essentially a demand that when you’re performing triage, you have to attempt to help the most obviously mortally-wounded first, even if it means the less-wounded die. If you want to complain that teachers and schools are spending the majority of their time and resources attempting to teach the stupidest kids stuff like how to eat with a fork such that the smarter kids get no help at all, well, you just need more teachers and more money, obviously. Until the dumb kid learns how to eat with a fork, your kid doesn’t get to learn about multiplication and division. If the cost of that is that most everybody graduates knowing how to eat with a fork and not a damn one of them knows how to make change for a dollar, mission accomplished.

    1. Millenial report: A girl at Starbucks refused to take a half-dollar because she didn’t believe it was real money.

      1. You don’t buy your half-caf double-decaf caramel macchiato with a twist using your debit card?

        1. It happened to a woman I work with. I gave her two quarters and took the half-dollar for myself.

          1. Looks like you got snookered. She gave you a modern wooden nickel.

            1. I inherited a coin collection from my father. I threw it in with the rest. (I know it’s not worth anything.)

              1. I keep a half dollar for scratch offs. It’s the lynchpin off my retirement plan.

                1. I keep and Eisenhower dollar at work to freak out the young’uns. Holy crap those things were huge. I can’t imagine lugging those around or throwing them at strippers.

        2. I think the most damning part of the story is SF went to a Starbucks.
          /sips Brazilian FC+ home roast

          1. I buy the cheap stuff from the supermarket and make a pot of coffee at home to take into work.

            1. Pro tip: take the disposed filter out of the work trash home. You can get a pretty decent second brew and it’s totally free.

              1. The quality really starts to decline after the fourth reuse, though.

                1. When it becomes flavorless brown water, I sell it to UCS. He says it’s a little strong, but the price is right.

              2. Make sure it’s above the rim.

          2. I’m not really much of a coffee drinker because it bothers my stomach. I had good luck making cold brew, but it got to be a pain in the ass.

            1. Dark roasts are less acidic. Get an aeropress and keep the water temp to 180F max when brewing. That should cut the acid down considerably.

            2. I see what you did there.

              1. No, it’s a stomach ache and not the screeching squirts.

            3. Cold brew can be a pain. I don’t want to wait 24hrs for coffee! I need it now!

            4. I make cold brew by the gallon. Well, I brew a gallon that after filtering is about 3/4 a gallon, which lasts two of us a week in the fridge. I use 12 oz. of coffee each time. 36 oz. of Eight O’Clock coffee is $9.93 at Wal Mart.

              I had to pick up a little bit of equipment though. I got a 4-L plastic funnel, an iron ring, and a ring stand to do the filtering. I also found a box of 250 1-gallon coffee filters that will last me years.

              That made filtering it easy. I just dump it and wait a little while until it’s done.

              Now, it comes out strong as fuck so you would use about half of what you would normally use and then add some milk to dilute it or half & half and water or whatever.

              But, it makes drinking coffee way easier on the gut and definitely sacrifices no caffeine.

      2. A girl at Starbucks refused to take a half-dollar because she didn’t believe it was real money.

        She probably thinks JFK means, “Just For Kicks,” in text-speak.

      3. Millenial report: A girl at Starbucks refused to take a half-dollar because she didn’t believe it was real money.

        That’s weak. and not a millenial thing.

        Man arrested, cuffed after using $2 bills (2005)

        1. I remember that. Idiots.

          1. He should have protested more intelligently and paid the surprise bill in nickels.

        2. Commenting on the incident, Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey told the Sun: “It’s a sign that we’re all a little nervous in the post-9/11 world.”

          Oh FFS.

      4. She demanded that you pay with a non-fiat currency?

        1. I would have kissed her if she said that…and then probably be asked to leave by management.

  6. OT: I know this’ll be in the PM links, but I am really giddy about the NODAPL crap being ended by Trump. I had to listen to all the proggy crap about it for months, see it nonstop in my facebook feed, and one of my coworkers went there to protest and had to lecture us all about it.

    How do you like that now, fuckers? Elections have consequences, like Obama used to say.

    1. Perhaps the problem is that you’re on Facebook.

  7. #apologies

    You know who else hurt disabled children…

    1. Dunphy?

    2. All of us who made fun of Cytotoxic?

      1. it’s true

        *wipes away tear*

    3. Katie Rich?

    4. Your mom?

    5. Geraldo “Jerry Rivers” Rivera. For realz.

  8. “really all you need to know about the far right’s education model.”

    There is no place in a leftist’s mind for the possibility that there is no model. They are religiously entrenched in the idea of central planning – and since central planning requires models they are as butt hurt as any fundamentalist who has his beliefs questioned.

    1. Nevermind that libertarians aren’t far right.

      Jesus, could these fucking retards at least get educated on the political spectrum before they open their cock suckers?

    2. I guess you could take that quote as a compliment (despite the confusion between Reason and the far-right). It seems to me that we should applaud the choice to not attempt to educate people with special needs for a very low price and through a more standardized approach. We should also be very upset that a system that currently fails miserably in its attempts to educate average kids would also take public money and pretend that they are capable of educating kids with special needs.

      “really all you need to know about the far right’s education model” = understanding and acceptance of their capabilities and limitations + enough integrity not to accept money for something they can’t and won’t do.

      1. Presenting the illusion that they care is the only thing that matters in the mind of a progressive.

        “If it helps just one child” is a weak attempt to deflect the active arresting of development of all the rest. If a progressive actually cared, they’d shut up and actually help just one person individually. Instead it’s nothing but an ego trip for them so they can pretend they might have helped millions when in fact they helped no one and harmed millions.

  9. from the Friedman interview:

    the difficulty of having a monopoly in which people cannot choose has been exacerbated by the fact that it has been largely taken over by teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers and the unions. Understandably, I do not blame them, but they are interested in the welfare of their members, not the welfare of the children.

    Some friends were complaining about a particular teacher at the local high school. Everyone knew to avoid her if possible, but there didn’t seem to be a way to get rid of her. And I told them exactly what Friedman said. The union cares about the teacher, not your kid. And boy did they get pissed…at me. How dare I say that teachers don’t care. They went from bitching about the crap teacher to defending the status quo without missing a beat.

  10. I can tell you from experience:

    School districts farm these students for the extra money they can bring in from state and, I believe, federal programs. They seem them as captive revenue sources, and feel no particular urge to spend the extra funding on the learning disabled students. I’ve had some very bad experiences in this area.

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