His own rhetoric is a bit slanted. He supports his case by reminding us of the old Georgia state flag, pre 2003, complete with stars and bars, in lieu of the current banner. He seems to toss Baptists into one pile and oozes some level of bigotry.
But...that said, he underscores the hypocrisy on the other side of the argument and makes some points worth thinking about.
In a post titled...
Horn points out:
- Among those children not to be left behind are individuals with special needs.
- Since NCLB became law, special needs kids have been forced to take tests that were not appropriate for them - that do not assess the learning that was supposed to accrue from their individual educational plans (IEPs).
- By including the scores of special needs students, hundreds, if not thousands, of schools have been added to the federal failure lists...entirely-predictably.
- Then Enter, parents and their legal advisors from conservative think tanks who argue that public schools are not meeting the needs of their special needs students, and that, therefore, the parents of special needs children should be given vouchers to enroll their children where they can get the special attention they deserve.
- That was January, and now it is July, and Georgia has a brand new law that allows parents to receive a school voucher for their special needs child that is redeemable at any approved private or public school, religious or otherwise.
- Over a hundred private schools (50 of them religious) have already been approved by the state.
- In order to not interfere with marketplace or religious variables, the State has made no requirements for the approved schools, such as certification requirements for teachers, the presence of programs for children with special needs, or regional accreditation (as required by public schools).
- The children now placed in private and religious schools no longer need to take the tests.
- Remember the tests were the basis for arguing the need for choice in the first place.
- The private schools, by virtue of being private, are not required to be accountable.
- The marketplace, or a parents religious choice, is the only accountability.
- Now following Meredith v Jefferson County Board of Education, Georgia's voucher advocates have had most their real objectives met.
- Wealthier parents will be able to have their children classified special ed, (OHI, LD, ADD, ADHD...) declare they are not being served, and take their voucher to any private school that will accept them.
- Poorer parents will have their children, who have been dragging down their schools' test scores, classifed for them and given the choice of any segregated religious school or a segregated secular private school that will accept them.
- School choice advocates say, hallelujah.
Asked about the plight of special needs students, Jeff Gagne, Georgia department of Education staffer who oversees the voucher program says, "Private schools are private schools, they are not obligated to take all these students. There's nothing in the law that requires them to do that."
In his Atlanta Constitution column, "Thinking Right, Common Sense Conservatism" Jim Wooten applauds:
School options are lesson in common sense
The pent-up demand for alternatives to traditional public schools erupted in Georgia last week.
That’s right. Erupted.
Some 3,300 families of children with special needs applied for vouchers to cover or supplement the purchase of services they want for their children elsewhere. And most will have real options. The State Board of Education on Thursday approved 115 private schools...
...The truly significant lesson from the week’s education news is that the marketplace has shown a willingness to embrace concepts that educrats think radical and that their interest groups and unions have resisted forever.
A successful introduction is not, however, success. Johnson and other supporters managed to resist attempts to saddle potential competitors with all the rules and regulations that cover traditional public schools. Critics note, for example, that private schools aren’t required to have curriculums tailored to special-needs children, or to hire certified teachers or those trained in special education. True enough.
They note, too, that competitiors are free to accept or reject applicants. True enough.
What’s happening here is that the locus of authority is tranferring from government to parents. For the first time in well over a century, the earth is moving in a direction that empowers parents — all parents, not just those with money.
For choice to be real, providers of education services should never, ever, be required to take every applicant. If they can’t serve a child’s particular needs — either because he’s disruptive, not up to grade, or deemed to have problems the school’s not equipped to address — they should be free to reject him.
When enough like-needs children exist, creative educators and entrepreneurs in the free market will create new schools.
Those schools should be free to employ anybody they see fit and to configure themselves in any model they choose, so long as fully informed parents are satisfied with the results and academic performance is no worse than the average of traditional public schools in the county...
I travel to Georgia with some frequency and am consistently amazed by the attention paid to race, by whites, in day to day life. Perhaps it is the same for blacks; I don't know. But this is a place where race is noticed, and counted, on the playing fields and on the highways, in everyday life.
So, all this Georgia "common sense" seems little more than reverse social engineering - using the law to allow parents the means to choose who their children will go to school with and off-load all constraints and accountability in the process.