Like many parents, Laura Ward grew up in a time when the local public school was the only choice. But when her son required specialized attention, a single educational option was not enough.
Laura and her son are one of 165 Arkansas students that have been able to take advantage of the state’s Succeed Scholarship Program. The program allows public school students with an Individualized Education Program to apply for scholarship funds to attend a private school more suited to meet their needs.
Thanks to the leadership of Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Legislature, the 2018-19 budget includes a 30-percent increase in funding for the Succeed Scholarship for students with special needs so more families will have access to educational opportunities.
Previously, Laura’s son struggled both academically and socially in his assigned public school because he wasn’t able to receive the individualized instruction and therapies he needed.
Now, with the Succeed Scholarship, Laura is sending him to a school that specializes in students with special needs that offers all of his additional therapies on campus.
“The difference is night and day between last year and now,” Laura said. “Being able to send my son to a school that focuses on reading, language development and vital social skills training has been more than we could have ever hoped for. He now enjoys learning and is excited to show me the progress he is making.”
For some parents, their locally zoned public school is working great, which is something all taxpayers can be proud of. But for many, that option is not working for their child. Because all children deserve a quality education, providing options for students with unique learning abilities can make a life-changing difference. Parents, not institutions, make the best decisions for students because they are the ones most invested in their success.
Similar programs have been highly successful for our most vulnerable students in states such as Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin.
As Arkansas’ first private school choice program, the Succeed Scholarship is a bold first step in ensuring students have access to a learning environment that best meets their unique needs and sets them on a path toward success in school and in life. I look forward to what is in store for the future of school choice and its life-changing potential for Arkansas’ children.