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Video News Release:”Finding the Right Program for Special Needs Students Critical to Success”

March 6th, 2008 by mopns · No Comments

ST. LOUIS, March 5, 2008 — A new video news release prepared by the Children’s Education Council of Missouri underscores the significance of placing children with special education needs in the appropriate learning environment to provide them with the best opportunity for success.

Titled “The Need for Special Needs Education Reform in Missouri, the release includes interviews with Missouri parent Patrice Cahalan and her daughter Alexa as well as state senator Jason Crowell (R), sponsor of Senate Bill 993, now being considered in the Missouri legislature. That bill would create the Missouri Special Needs Scholarship Tax Credit Program, to be administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Another current bill, House Bill 1886, is sponsored by state Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst (R). Known as “Bryce’s Law, it is named after the legislator’s late grandson, who was afflicted with autism. HB1886 is designed to amend chapter 163 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes on State Aid and would add six new sections relating to the development of a Missouri special needs scholarship tax credit program.

More than 130,000 children in Missouri have special education needs, and 100,000 of them require Independent Education Programs (IEP). Most of these students require special classes, services and teachers. For many, such as Alexa Cahalan of metropolitan St. Louis, their learning can be frustratingly stifled unless their parents can align them with the teachers and programs that best address their particular challenges.

Alexa is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Her mother, Patrice, discusses how Alexa, with her above-average intellect, did not meet the requirements of the St. Louis Special School District, nor did the local public school district offer a program that could help her.

When Patrice Cahalan heard about a small and unique program called Project Achieve provided by another St. Louis area school district, the suburban Kirkwood School District, she applied for her daughter’s admission and Alexa was accepted in the limited enrollment. Alexa graduated from the high school with honors and has continued her academic career in college.

SB993 would provide grants to elementary and secondary education students through scholarship-granting organizations to cover all or part of tuition and fees at a qualified public or non-public school and transportation to certain public schools. Beginning with tax year 2008, a contributing taxpayer would be able to claim a tax credit against state tax liability in an amount equal to 80 percent of his/her contribution to a scholarship-granting organization.

Children’s Education Council of Missouri is a 501(c)4 not-for-profit organization that advocates for public policy which improves access to a quality education for all Missouri children.

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