... I finally wrapped an investigation I've been working on for the last several weeks, and immediately fell into that familiar post-publishing haze.
The story was an investigation into the Succeed Scholarship program, Arkansas's school vouchers for students with disabilities. I spoke with some parents who were unpleasantly surprised by the education their children received at schools taking the scholarship, and didn't understand why the state wasn't taking a more active role in ensuring the private schools — which receive state funding — were providing a quality education for their kids. The answer, according to the Arkansas Department of Education? The state doesn't have the authority to do that. From the story:
ADE does not proactively ensure that requirements are being met, as it does in the case of public schools, but rather responds to concerns as they arise. In an interview with Facing South, ADE attorney Courtney Salas-Ford said that the department's accountability processes for public and private schools are "night and day."
"We have an affirmative obligation to monitor and ensure compliance with the public schools," she said. "It's not the complaint-initiated thing we do with private schools."
But parents often don't realize how little authority the state has over private schools, according to disability rights advocate Masseau. They are "accepting this scholarship thinking they're going to get the moon, the sun, the stars, everything," he said. "And in fact, they're getting very scarce services."
Read the rest here. Forward to your friends if you like! And if you have tips, send them my way.