Special Needs vs. Special Interests

This week a house committee killed Education Savings Accounts that would have helped special needs and low-income students, underserved by their current public school.  House Bill 1286, Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts (PCESAs), died in subcommittee.  Virginia Education special interests, including Virginia Education Association (VEA) and the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) opposed this legislation.  We were very disappointed that Del. Gordon Helsel, Jr. of Poquoson joined the special interests and was the lone Republican who voted with Democrats to kill the legislation.

GOP Del. Glenn Davis of Virginia Beach made an impassioned plea to support the measure that would allow K-12 special needs students or students whose family income is below 300% of the poverty line to withdraw from public school and be educated in either a private school or home school.  Under the legislation, the parents would have received approximately $4,000 for a restricted use education savings account. The public school would have retained two-thirds of the state per-pupil expenditure which could have been used to cover the fixed cost of school operations and for investing in students who choose to remain in public school.

Simply stated, if this bill had become law, each PCESA student would have been educated in the private sector for one-third the cost while the student-to-teacher ratio in the public school would have gone down with the net per-pupil expenditure for remaining students going up.  A win for everyone.

But, unfortunately once again, the special interests defeated those with special needs.  Middle Resolution will continue this fight in the future, and we thank everybody who responded to our call to action.