Click for audio Do Private Schools "Skim the Cream?"

Traditional public schools are often not equipped to educate students with special needs. A surprising number of private schools specialize in teaching difficult-to-educate children such as disabled, incarcerated, and at-risk youth. These schools are laying to rest the myth that private schools just "skim the cream" and leave all the toughest kids to the public schools.

There are about 3,000 private special education schools and facilities nationwide. Roughly half the children with traumatic brain injuries are educated in private settings, and so are hundreds of thousands of kids from troubled backgrounds.

Starr Commonwealth of Albion is just one of many private Michigan schools that targets children with special needs. It raised over $15 million last year from private sources, and has educated hundreds of troubled kids since 1913.

Contrary to popular belief, public schools don’t accept everyone. Many public schools contract with private schools to teach the difficult-to-educate. Over 100,000 special education children attend private schools at public expense.

Thousands of private schools do nothing but teach the toughest kids. As Michigan citizens debate education reforms, they should not sell short the achievements of these private schools.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.