Excel National Applauds Mississippi Legislators for Seeking to Empower Parents

Excel National Applauds Mississippi Legislators for Seeking to Empower Parents

January 20, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Excellence in Education National Executive Director, Patricia Levesque, issued the following statement on the filing of The Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act by Mississippi Representative Carolyn Crawford, a parent of a child with special needs, and Senator Nancy Collins. This legislation (HB 394) would provide parents of special needs students with access to customized educational options that best suit the needs of their child.

“I applaud Representative Carolyn Crawford and Senator Nancy Collins for introducing this important legislation that empowers parents and ensures every student has access to an educational path that leads to their success.

“As parents, Representative Crawford and Senator Collins know first-hand that, for a child with special needs, the right combination of therapies, learning environment and other tools can be life changing.

“Today, only 23 percent of Mississippi’s students with special needs graduate with a high school diploma. Mississippi’s parents and their children deserve better. These bills would make a difference. We encourage the Legislature to pass this legislation quickly and put Mississippi another step closer to meeting the learning needs of children with unique abilities.”

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Facts about The Equal Opportunity for Students Special Needs Act:

  • This is a pilot program open to 500 students in year one and 500 new students each year after.
  • Students with an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within the past 18 months will be eligible to apply for an Education Scholarship Account (ESA).
  • Each account could be spent on approved educational expenses like private school tuition, educational therapy, and tutoring.
  • Parents will sign a compliance agreement for proper use of funds and each account will be audited.
  • Participating private schools must be accredited; tutors and therapists must be licensed or certified.

Background on Education Scholarship Accounts:

  • Education scholarship accounts (also commonly referred to as education savings accounts or ESAs) are an innovative way to bring customization to K-12 education.
  • ESAs allow parents to direct their child’s funding to the schools, courses, programs and services of their choice.
  • Parents are able to save unused funds for higher education expenses – creating an incentive for parents to judge all K-12 service expenses not only on quality but also on cost.

ESAs create a personal approach to education, where the ultimate goal is maximizing each child’s natural learning abilities.