LDA Position Statement: Supporting a Strong Public Education System for All Students

The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) supports a strong public education system as essential to ensuring equality of educational opportunities for all students, including students with learning disabilities.  Diverting public funds to private and sectarian schools through vouchers, tuition tax credits, education savings accounts, and portability will serve the opposite purpose, negatively affecting students with disabilities, children in poverty, and students in rural areas, among others.

Private and sectarian schools are not accountable to the public. Specifically for students with learning disabilities, these institutions are not required to meet the responsibilities of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal civil rights and education laws.  These laws ensure students with disabilities receive an appropriate evaluation for services and a free appropriate public education provided in the least restrictive environment. The IDEA and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) also require public schools to develop appropriate academic standards and assess all students, hire certified personnel, and provide the necessary specialized instructional support services to guide students with disabilities to positive educational outcomes.  Private schools are not obligated to meet any of these requirements.  In addition, when families accept and use vouchers or other public funds in private and sectarian schools, they lose the IDEA guarantee of due process rights, including mediation, dispute resolution, and other avenues of redress.

Low- and middle-income students with disabilities and those students living in rural areas do not have the same access to private schools, even with a school voucher.  Very few private schools exist in rural communities, and the amount of a school voucher rarely covers the full tuition for high-quality private institutions in urban areas.  Unlike public schools, private schools are not required to provide transportation, further limiting the ability of low- and middle-income and rural students with disabilities to attend high-quality private schools.

LDA believes public funds should be invested in public schools.  Public school choice – including traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet programs – offers a range of educational options to meet all students' needs.  For students with disabilities with significant needs that cannot be met in the public school system, the IDEA already provides for public placement in private schools specifically designed to meet those students' academic and behavioral challenges.

The diversion of federal and state funds for private education can result in poorer outcomes for many students.  Rather than using these funds to support private and sectarian schools, LDA believes a robust public investment in public education is critical to ensuring all students, including students with learning disabilities, equal opportunity to succeed in school and in life.

Download the PDF of this Position Paper here.

Speak Your Mind