Education advocates raise red flag, question pitfalls of special education voucher program

Over 40 organizations from The Coalition for Public Schools, including Texas AFT, signed onto a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott regarding the recent establishment of the Supplemental Special Education Services Program (SSES). While the program has good intentions, it is creating a special education voucher system by providing individual parents the sole discretion on spending taxpayer funds on private vendors. 

The SSES is responsible for allocating money to families of eligible students with low incidence disabilities. This program allows these families to buy up to $1,500 per student of educational supplemental services from vendors approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Given that these students are among the most vulnerable of student populations, it is imperative that the problems this system is causing are addressed. 

The letter cites these major deficiencies including determining if supplemental services are developmentally appropriate for students, the lack of efficiency in spending, circumventing the public school system, and the inadequacies of this program to fulfill the state’s legal responsibility to these children. The coalition offers these recommendations to address these pitfalls: deliver all COVID-19 relief funding spent to assist children receiving special education services through an appropriate public manner, include the Local Education Agencies (LEA) in the decision-making process for how funds are allocated and spent, move to a future system of public education funding that more fully provides LEAs with the necessary funds. 

Read more about these recommendations.