Thursday, December 06, 2007

A good start 

It will be interesting to hear what objections the education establishment have to school choice this time. Rep. Michele Bachmann has introduced a bill for school choice for foster children.

Currently, when foster children change homes, many must transfer schools if their new home is located in a different school district. The bipartisan School Choice for Foster Kids Act would give states the flexibility to make younger foster children eligible for education vouchers � currently designated for students 16 to 23 years old � through the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. It would allow foster parents to send a child to his or her original school or to choose a school that can undertake the unique challenges their foster child may face.

�Instead of separating foster children from trusted friends and teachers, we should give them the opportunity to stay at a school if it is fulfilling their needs,� said Bachmann. �We should also allow families to choose the school that is best equipped to serve their foster child.�

That last sentence begs the question: Why just for foster children?

The Chafee program mentioned provides federal dollars to assist teens transitioning out of foster care. In the enabling legislation (P.L. 106-169 -- it's Appendix B in this FAQ about the program) there was a Congressional finding in 1999 that money should go "several years before high school graduation and continuing ... until the young adults emancipated from foster care establish independence or reach 21 years of age." But the Chafee program, as I understand it, only sends money to states and has the states create the vouchers. I have not seen the text of the School Choice for Foster Kids bill yet, and it's not on the House website. I've written to ask for that information.