Where's the accountability?
Florida's McKay voucher for disabled students has become a model for similar programs in other states (see story here). But a national think tank says in a report released yesterday that other states should take a closer look at Florida's program - and avoid its shortcomings. Among the major problems noted by Education Sector: Nobody really knows whether the kids who use the vouchers to attend private schools are getting a better education. Why? "Unlike with Florida's other school choice options, the state collects very little information from schools and students participating in the McKay program," the report says. "McKay students do not have to take the annual state tests administered to public school students, and McKay schools are not required to report any information on student outcomes - which goes against the national trend towards standards and accountability in public education."
McKay voucher are named after former state Senate President John McKay, R-Bradenton, and were strongly backed by former Gov. Jeb Bush. Currently, about 18,000 students are using them, at a cost of $108 million. Over the years, the program has come under fire from critics because of flaws in financial oversight (see stories here and here). But supporters say parents are satisfied (see story here).
- Ron Matus, state education reporter