Counterpoint ― Preserving Public Values in the Private Sector: Unintended Consequences or Vouching for Ableism-Free Schools?
45 Journal of Law & Education 369 (2016)
17 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2016
Date Written: May 6, 2016
The federal obligations of voucher schools to students with disabilities sparked a controversial federal investigation in Wisconsin, a state where parental choice schools are fast becoming the norm. In “The Limits of Federal Disability Law: State Educational Voucher Programs,” (45 Journal of Law & Education 369), Commentator Wendy Hensel continues her inquiry into the efficacy of the school voucher model, with a focus on private school compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Stephen Rosenbaum's disagreement with Professor Hensel is not about the appropriateness or quality of a private school education for disabled students, as much as her focus on unintended consequences, such as the distortion or dilution of federalist doctrine.
In this response to her article, he sets out four principles. First, he acknowledges that parental choice schools are a fixture of educational reform, and for many, they represent an anticipated antidote to “failed schools.” Second, rather than argue for an opt-out of federal disability non-discrimination laws, he prefers to seek ways to encourage these schools’ compliance to the maximum extent feasible. Third, he asserts that all schools should adopt and embrace an ableism-free environment, beginning with an elevation of disability to the altar of core anti-discrimination values. Fourth, he argues that the above objectives can be obtained in both the private and public sector by having one clear standard for primary and secondary educational institutions to follow in accommodating disabled pupils, modifying policies or offering instructional support and services. Finally, he shares Hensel’s belief that public school compliance with laws enabling and protecting students with disabilities must be at the forefront of policy-making and advocacy. To that end, he urges continued vigilance is required to ensure best practices for disabled — and other marginalized — students.
Keywords: Voucher Schools, Ableism, Disability, Reasonable Accommodations, Minor Adjustments
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