Gov. Bryant is encouraging the Mississippi House of Representatives to approve House Bill 765, the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act. Since special needs students trail all other students in graduation rates, HB 765 would provide education vouchers for those students under certain circumstances so the parents could choose the best location and type of education to meet their children’s unique needs.
If enacted, the program would fund qualified special education students at the MAEP base student cost plus a share of costs for special programs required by that student.
Passed in 1997 by the Democrat-controlled state legislature, Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) is a formula that produces the base student cost to provide each student an “adequate education” in Mississippi. Each district must provide up to 27% of that base cost through local revenues with the state funding the difference.
The Republicans now controlling the legislature have not funded education to the MAEP standard by $1.2 Billion since 2008–a point which the Democrats attempt to use against them. In the current budget talks, the MAEP formula is underfunded by over $200 Million for 2015.
Back to vouchers. . . If education vouchers are good for special needs students, wouldn’t they be good for all students?
For more information:
- House Bill 765
- Special education vouchers debated by Miss. Senate
- Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP)
- State budget gets $247.6M more