Friday, February 15, 2008

Giant Steps forward

February 13th was a great day in the Capital building in Jefferson City. The House and Senate hearings, packed with people displaying bright red "Have a Heart" stickers, discussed special education tax scholarships. There were dozens of testimony for and against the bills, however I would personally like to add the testimonies for the bills were amazing. Parents told stories of their children that evoked tear-filled eyes in the audience. Basically, they showed how the current system was not working for all the special needs children and something needed to be done. The opponents of the bills gave their testimonies, however, they seemed to be beating a dead horse with their reasoning. While many of the testimonies were provoking, there was also the argument by Dave Roland, of the Show-Me Institute. The Show-Me Institute published Dave's testimony he gave during the Senate hearing. It reflects the reasoning behind why such a program would benefit Missouri, how the program would work, and why it does not go against the constitution. Dave Roland had this to say in his show-me daily blog:

The hearings yesterday included moving testimony from parents who have faced (and, in some cases, overcome) enormous obstacles in trying to help their children, as well as testimony from a number of parents, educators, and administrators opposed to changing the status quo. Unfortunately, this morning's news reports missed the opportunity to note that some of the points raised by those opposing the bills were clearly and thoroughly debunked. Articles in the Southeast Missourian and the Post-Dispatch try to present a relatively balanced picture of the issues, as presented at the Senate committee's hearing. Both of these articles, and the one posted at Missourinet, point out concerns raised by some educators that the programs would take money away from public schools — but (as conversations at the House committee hearing made absolutely plain) it would be impossible for the tax credit bills, as written, to divert any money away from the state's educational funding formula. If the special needs tax credit program is adopted, public schools will receive exactly the same level of funding as they would without the program.

More information on the hearing can be seen in this article as well.

The House committee voted last night and it was overwhelming in favor of it. Now, it will head to the House floor for further debate.

This is a huge step in helping the special needs children of Missouri. Let's hope it keeps going in the right direction.

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