An Historic First

For the first time, this state's taxpayers in general will be coming to the rescue of those families with kids that need special help to make it through school. These new Succeed Scholarships are slated to benefit up to 100 students at nine schools this year.

You name the locale and there are bound to be kids there who require help with their disabilities. Disabilities like dyslexia, autism, attention deficit disorder, troubles seeing or hearing, you name it. To quote Katie Clifford, executive director of The Reform Alliance, which not only distributes these scholarships but serves as a check on any abuse of the program: "We are working hard to get schools on board and students on board. Because it is such a new program, we are working hard to help people know that it exists and help people know what we can do." Which is why the Reform Alliance has mailed out some some 66,000 fliers to Arkansas households offering information and encouragement. No wonder the program sped through the Legislature with not a single vote recorded against it. The benefits are multiple, the problems minimal.

But the aginners we will always have with us, and you can count on any school district's or university's administrators to lead the charge against any new or useful idea. Like an old guard that can be counted on to fight for the status forever quo. But there is no good reason not to provide state-funded vouchers for the families of poor and/or disabled kids. Or just those who could use a little help raising money for tuition. After all, the state has an obligation to serve them, too.

There are times when true leaders, as opposed to the pretend kind, rise above principle. Think of Thomas Jefferson, patron saint of those who believed in the strict construction of this country's remarkable Constitution with its myriad clockwork mechanisms to keep all the usual radicals at bay and serve the general welfare. Given the right context and circumstances, he could proceed with alacrity. As when he was given the opportunity to purchase not just the Port of New Orleans but the whole of the vast Louisiana Territory stretching almost to then British Canada.

And yet the aginners predictably oppose the state's doing right by these kids and their families. Why? For specious reasons that are both unfounded and inhumane. Families would be left out of the voucher program because they might have to pay some of their own way? (As if a lot of help is not worth it if it's not all the help required.) Yes, tuition at some schools might be more than the $6,646 provided by this program. But $6,646 would be a heck of a down payment for many families. Besides, some private schools are already waiving the balance for these kids. May they all be rewarded.

As usual in "progressive" circles, the demand for an imagined equality trumps all other considerations. Even if these students already have their expenses picked up by the state's taxpayers in the public schools. Progress marches on even though "progressives" may oppose it.

A word, yet again, about the Walton Family Foundation of Bentonville, which funds The Reform Alliance. Okay, maybe more than one word:

Thank you--again. The foundation has put its money where its ideas are, and has for decades. And children will benefit. If there's a better way to serve your fellow man, it doesn't readily come to mind.

Editorial on 09/07/2016

Print Headline: An historic first