March 26, 2010
Wesley Burt

Most Oklahomans support scholarship for special-need students to enroll in private school

SoonerPoll finds most Oklahomans support proposal to allow government to assist with tuition costs for special-need students to enroll in private school.

When asked about a proposal to allow special-need students currently in public schools schools to enroll in private schools chosen by the parents with government help to pay the tuition, 54.7 percent of likely Oklahoma voters said they would support the proposal., Oklahoma�s public opinion pollster, conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 1000 likely voters from Feb. 25 � March 8.�� This particular question was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. The study has a margin of error of � 3.1 percent.

To see a PDF document containing all the questions asked by OCPA click here.

Rep Jason Nelson (R, District 87) authored House Bill 3393 which �establishes the Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program for the purpose of providing a scholarship to a private school of choice for students with disabilities who have had an individualized education program (IEP) developed in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.�

�This legislation acknowledges the fact that children with special needs have unique challenges. If those needs are not properly addressed in their assigned local school,� Nelson said. �I believe we should give those families the opportunity to attend the school that provides the best learning environment for their children.�

Republicans and Democrats don't often see eye to eye in their support for proposals that offer tax credits for private schools, however further analysis of the results show the majority of both parties support the proposal.

�The results of the survey show that public opinion is clearly behind the concepts in the bill," Dr. Keith Gaddie, vice president of Soonerpoll, said.� "Voters in this state show a sense of justice and parsimony in the treatment of special needs, including supporting efforts to find competitive educational solutions for the most challenged.�

HB 3393 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 78-19 vote March 4, 2010 and proceeded to the state Senate where it was referred to the Appropriations Committee, it is scheduled to be voted on soon.

To see the full text of the bill click here.

Wesley Burt
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Wesley Burt