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Mississippi Special Education Voucher Bill Fails to Pass House, Parents Upset

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Mississippi lawmakers have rejected a bill that would have provided the parents of special education public school students vouchers to pay for private school tuition or programs.

Wednesday's vote in the Mississippi House was 63-57 against the Equal Opportunity for All Students with Special Needs Act, which according to a story in the Clarion-Ledger, would have given the parents of special education students a $6,000 voucher each year.

The bill would have limited vouchers to 500 students the first two years, increasing to 700 children in four years. According to the story, there are about 65,000 special education students in Mississippi.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and some parents had urged lawmakers to support the bill, claiming that the state's public schools lack the capacity to serve children with special needs. Meanwhile, the Clarion-Ledger reports that opponents of the proposed legislation believed that the voucher plan would siphon much-needed funds away from public schools into private school coffers.

"Big money and power is running our school systems, and unfortunately our government as well," Debra Dye, a parent of two special needs children in Olive Branch, Miss., told the newspaper. "Our education system will not change until it becomes about the children and not about money and power."

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