This argument again assumes that everyone should be denied the right to choose because only some might not be able to get exactly what they want in a school.  School choice does not create a Utopia, but it does respect the rights of all families, including those with special education needs, to seek the best education for their children.  There is also no reason to believe that competing schools will not be able to fill demand for important services:  Private schools already serve many students with special needs.

The Facts: 

  • School choice most likely will reduce transportation costs.  The best government schools tend to be in wealthier districts that are expensive to live in, and if out-of-district parents want to send their children to these schools (if they are even allowed), the cost of transporting them there may be high.  School choice will reduce the cost to parents of sending their children to the best schools because residence will no longer be a strong determining factor in school quality.  Schools that excel will be rewarded with more enrollment—wherever they are located.  As choice expands, schools able to meet local families' needs will spring up in more communities, thus lessening the need for long commutes.  In addition, there is no reason to believe that schools would not be willing to provide their own bus service if it proves important enough for parents.

  • Transportation is a minor barrier compared to the cost of tuition or of buying a home in the "right" school district.  A poll of 502 Detroit parents with children in government schools why they did not enroll their children in a private or charter school-of-choice.  Only 11 percent of all respondents cited lack of transportation as the primary barrier, but 43 percent said the expense of tuition was the chief reason.  When asked which was the greater concern for them, tuition costs or transportation, 100 percent said tuition costs.[144]

  • Private schools already are serving special education students.  In fact, public schools turn away many children with severe disabilities and behavioral problems and place them in private institutions.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 100,000 students attend private schools with public money.  Students with serious emotional disturbance account for 40 percent of the students enrolled in these private schools, according to one study.[145]  There is no reason to believe that private schools would not continue to serve these and other special-needs students in an increasing number under a school choice program.

[144]       "Detroit Public Schools poll," Detroit Free Press, 6 February 1999.

[145]       Janet R. Beales and Thomas F. Bertonneau, Do Private Schools Serve Difficult-to-Educate Students?, Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Reason Foundation, October 1997, p. 1.  Available on the Internet at

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