Governor signs bill to help kids

allkidsreading9-3-081On Friday May 29th, 2009 the Governor signed a bill, called Lexie’s law that, in my opinion, is a win-win situation for all. If you read Friday’s AZ Republic editorial column, they seem to agree.

This bill, which will become law August 27th gives parents the opportunity to place their special needs or foster-care children in schools that are best for their child and doesn’t cost the state and taxpayers any extra money.  In fact it will save the state money, thus freeing up limited funds for public education or other purposes.  I was honored to vote for and speak in favor of this bill on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Here are the reasons I support this bill:

1.    This bill provides a great opportunity for parents to place their special needs or foster-care child in a school that best serves their child’s educational needs.  I am Vice Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.  We listened to testimony in committee on this bill.  Andrea Weck testified that the public schools were not meeting her daughter Lexie’s educational needs and that her daughter was now flourishing in a private school funded by the scholarship program.  It is an opportunity that she could not otherwise afford.  We heard testimony that foster children are often moved from school to school with changing foster parents and that this bill will give them the opportunity to attend one school.

2.    This bill will save the state money since the private school scholarship is capped at 90% of what would have been spent for that same child in a public school.  That’s a saving to the state of 10%.

3.    This bill will relieve the public schools of the cost of educating hundreds of special education children that will instead attend private schools. The public schools have complained for years that special education funding is not enough and they have to pull money away from other sources to supplement the special education costs.

I believe our goal should be to provide the best education possible to each child.  If a private school can provide a better education at a lower cost to the state and taxpayers, why wouldn’t we want to do that for our children?

Opponents, including the public school teachers’ union (AZ Education Association) and the democrat legislators who are often politically supported and funded by the teachers’ union, tell parents that the public schools will receive less money since they get paid per child.  While that is technically accurate, they fail to add that the child will no longer be in the public school, thus the school no longer has that expense.

If our goal is truly about providing the best education, and not just about growing public schools and protecting jobs for public school employees, I think most will agree that this legislation is truly a win-win for all.

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