Vouchers for the gifted

Levi Clancy’s special needs can’t be met by his local public schools, so his mother enrolled him a school where he’s able to learn. But the district won’t pay the cost, because the 14-year-old boy (aka Levi Meir Levi) is a junior premed at UCLA. The mother’s suit for special ed compensation for the “profoundly gifted” — in this case college tuition — was heard by the California First District Court of Appeals in Sacramento two weeks ago. The suit asks for vouchers for gifted students whose needs can’t be met in the normal K-12 schools. The state says it has no “constitutional duty” to offer a free education beyond the high school level, even to students who are required by law to attend school.

I wrote two years ago that the family has a case: All students have a right to a “free and appropriate education.” A boy who left elementary school for community college can’t get an appropriate education in the K-12 system. His mother would be content with the funding LA otherwise would spend to warehouse Levi in high school; his lawyer claims the K-12 district gets $12,000 per student while UCLA fees are only $9,000.

On Edspresso, Ryan Boots takes a broader look at special-needs vouchers.

The disabled and gifted are both outliers, and public schools have done a pretty bad job of serving both.

My ex-husband’s second daughter is now taking some eighth-grade classes while also taking two classes on a nearby university campus. If all goes well — and she’s acing the classes, according to my ex — she’ll be a full-time university student next year when she’ll be 14.

The New York Sun tells the story of a progressive superintendent who eliminated classes for gifted and talented students in her New York City region, driving out middle-class families and radically reducing the number of students who qualify for specialty high schools. In the name of equity, smart kids are denied the chance to learn at their own level.

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  1. Mark Roulo says:

    “his lawyer claims the K-12 district gets $12,000 per student while UCLA fees are only $9,000.”

    Not quite. UCLA fees might be only $9K, but the state spends more than this to educate a UCLA student (about $20K if I remember correctly … sorry, no source). The state paying to send him to UCLA either means (1) some other student (age 18+) doesn’t get in, or (2) UCLA makes a new slot and this costs the state more than $9K per year.

    I think that the parents have a case given that the kid is required to attend school, but the economic cost of UCLA vs local school isn’t it.

    *My* solution would be to let students stop attending high school when/if they can pass the exit exam …

    -Mark Roulo

  2. I agree with Mark’s points except for the solution. The high school exit exam is so easy. Passing it really means you are ready to enter high school, not college.

    I am quite sure that at least a few percent of the high school students can skip grade 12 and go on to college, even though it is better for them to finish grade 12. If skipping grade 12 means 1 year of free college, it would open the flood gate.

  3. The schools are probably relying on the gifted student’s standardized test scores to pull up the averages and stave off NCLB sanctions. The trapped students should protest by flunking any tests not directly connected to their own advancement.