Lawmakers for Affordable Private School for Special Needs

Tuesday, June 30th 2009, 4:31 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A handful of state lawmakers are trying to find a way to make private schools more affordable for special-needs children and their parents. One suggestion they've come up with is giving tax credits.

This idea came from Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think-tank that studies public policy.

What they're calling for is a school choice tax credit. Companies or individuals make contributions to an agency that gives out scholarship money. That money will then be used by parents of special needs children to fund their children's education in a private school. They want the scholarships set at $5 thousand.

The company or people who make the donation would then get a tax credit for their contribution. The proposal has the backing so far of a few Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

"Oklahoma, like other states, is a state of limited resources, and what we as legislators must do is utilize those limited resources in a way that we can provide the best potential education for every child in Oklahoma," Sen. John Ford (R - Bartlesville) said.

"There's just not in your traditional public schools, the experts, just not the type of funding available to really help kids with disabilities to really reach the level that they can reach," Rep. Jabar Shumate (D - Tulsa) said.

Some parents of special needs children say they have concerns about this. First, they don't think the scholarship amount is enough and some of these kids may lose protections they have in public schools in terms of what the school must provide.

But those parents do say they are open to discussions about the proposal.

Read the study that lead to this proposed legislation.