Voucher Schools Pose A Threat to Special Needs Students and Taxpayers

Voucher school systems and charter schools have been a hot topic in the world of education since the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, was appointed earlier this year.

DeVos, an advocate for voucher systems and charter schools, plans to support these two educational systems during her term. Fox Business states, “DeVos is a firm believer that a child should not be limited to a school district based on their family’s income or zip code, a view in line with comments from the President. She has advocated for a controversial school voucher in the past, which allocates federal taxpayer dollars to provide children the opportunity to attend private and religious institutions.”


According to Business Insider, charter schools are schools that are privately run but funded publicly. “They are free to deviate from most state guidelines–excluding tests–and can range in size from one student learning at home to thousands across the country.”

School voucher programs are systems that use government funding and allow students to attend private institutions. Voucher schools receive federal funding, but have the ability take away federal rights of students, especially to special-needs students.

Voucher schools systems exist with the idea of allowing parents to select which school they want their children to attend. Business Insider states, “An education voucher lets parents apply that money [given by a voucher] to a private or religious school, perhaps if they live in an area with bad public schools or want to give their child a specific kind of education. With a voucher, they can attend a school to which their family otherwise has no access.”

According to an article written by Nancy Bailey, most vouchers currently go towards special-needs students with the help of providing them a better education. Vouchers aim to provide students with a better education than what students would receive in traditional public schools, Bailey states in her article “[T]here is no evidence vouchers do better than programs in traditional public school. In most cases students do worse, and they lose their rights to due process under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).”

Voucher Schools Limit the Resources of Special-Needs Students

According to Business Insider, “In many states, special-needs kids who use vouchers must surrender the federal protections afforded to them by the Individual with Disabilities Education Act IDEA”.

IDEA benefits special-needs students, such as providing certain legal protection if a child acts out in school because of their disability, protections regarding the teacher’s qualifications, and guarantee’s that students will receive an education similar to what a tradition public-school student would receive.

What most parents don’t know is that they strip special-needs students of their rights.

According to Business Insiders, “In Wisconsin, for example, these vouchers cost public school districts $2.4 million in state aid. The money helped fund 202 students with disabilities to attend private schools. Critics of the Wisconsin voucher program, such as the family coalition Stop Special Needs Vouchers, argue the laws leave private schools free to ignore IDEA’s protections, which makes voucher programs less effective yet still costly to taxpayers and possibly detrimental to public schools.”

In an article published by the New York Times, parents who use the vouchers for special-needs students, such as the McKay Scholarship program, are largely unaware that by participating in these programs, they are waving most of their child’s rights under IDEA.

According to the New York Times article, McKay is the largest of 10 disability scholarship programs across the United States. The McKay scholarship servers over 30,000 special needs students. While parents who are eligible for this may find this as a help, using the voucher program may actually limit a child’s education.

“Depending on the voucher program, the rights being waived can include the right to a free education; the right to the same level of special-education services that a child would be eligible for in a public school; the right to a state-certified or college-educated teacher; and the right to a hearing to dispute disciplinary action against a child,” the article states.

Albright Education Professor Dr. Rodney Warfield teaches special education courses to students studying in the education field. “Voucher schools are like any other form of education; there are goods and bads to them,” Warfield states. “Some children will excel in them, some children will not.”

As a professor who teaches special education courses, Warfield believes that whether or not a special education student will succeed in a voucher school depends on how the particular school is set up and how it relates to federal law. “I think the child is always at a loss in this case because he is not always getting the services that he needs nor is he getting the accommodations that are appropriate to him,” states Warfield.


Junior early childhood education major Ashlee Brandt is strongly against the voucher school system. “As an early childhood education major, I really care about students. I believe that children with special-needs have needs that must be met. If their needs aren’t met, that doesn’t help them succeed,” states Brandt. “I feel that [voucher schools] should try to work to help special-needs students and not take away any of their rights.”

ashlee brandt
Photo courtesy of Ashlee Brandt

What Taxpayers Don’t Know About Voucher Schools

“Charter schools and voucher schools have minimal transparency and limited accountability That lack of transparency results in scandal and theft.,” The Washington Post

Parents aren’t the only ones to be concerned about voucher programs, taxpayers are funding these institutions whether they realize it or not.

According to an article published by The Washington Post, “A 2002 conservative estimate for a national voucher program could cost as much as $73 billion.”

Taxpayers would not only be covering the costs for voucher programs to exist entirely, but allows for these institutions to select which students attend the schools. Voucher schools have the ability to reject students on numerous factors including religious belief, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, discipline history, and disabilities, to name a few.

Not only do voucher schools strip away students from their federal rights and discriminate on a number of factors, but several schools have been under investigation for the embezzlement of funds by an administrator.

The Washington Post goes into detail about several scandals of both voucher school systems and charter schools. One voucher school in Milwaukee received millions of tax dollars. The same voucher school was being operated by a convicted rapist.

Another example provided by The Washington Post centers on the Indiana state school voucher program that was helped being passed by former governor– now vice president Mike Pence. The program promised that it would help poor and lower-middle class families so that these parents could find schools that they liked for their children. Only five years after being in place more than half of the state’s voucher recipients have never attended an Indianan public school. Because of this, many vouchers were going to wealthier families, families earning up to $90,000 for a household of four, according to the article.

Emma Morril, Junior at Albright College

Emma Morrill, a junior early childhood education major at Albright College is against the voucher school system. “It has been researched that [voucher schools] don’t work,” Morrill states. “I think that every student should have an equal opportunity. Voucher schools don’t provide that for it’s students, especially for students with disabilities. I think that [Betsy DeVos] is telling people that [voucher school systems] will save the taxpayers money but in reality it’s going to be even more expensive and public schools will suffer.”


Voucher Schools in High Poverty Cities

While the thought of voucher schools may benefit students who live in high poverty cities with school districts who have low performance levels. In an article published by Casey Quinlan about President Trump’s education plans, voucher schools are something that are on his agenda. Trump may not be aware of how voucher schools could hurt low-income students and families.

The use of vouchers will ultimately divert federal funds that go towards public school to the private schools, thus making struggling school districts struggle even more.

In a city like Reading, Pennsylvania, poverty is at an all time high. As a result, the Reading school districts have begun providing breakfast and lunch to all students every day. If voucher schools become in option in poorer regions, money that goes towards public schools will then be cut for the voucher schools.

Quinlan states in her article, “[T]eachers unions say these vouchers only divert funds away from struggling public schools and toward schools that don’t properly serve disadvantaged students.”

By allowing these school programs into high poverty regions, students and educators will suffer from budget cuts, which may lead to the elimination of free breakfast and lunch for every student, causing thousands of children to go hungry.

Overall, voucher schools pose as a threat to the rights of special-needs students and taxpayers. What will come out of DeVos’ term? Will voucher schools become an option for parents and students in the Reading area? Will inner-city students be able to choose which school they attend?


4th Hour

What I would like to address more this semester are how to properly format your work from blog posts to maybe getting them published into newspapers/publications. For COM 315 my last final beat paper I submitted you suggested submitting my piece to the Albrightian. I would like to know how to you would suggest changing the format from the blog post to an a piece that’s publication worthy.

4th Hour Social Media Promotions

Facebook Post For A Walk Through Holland Blog Post:

Wanted to attend the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show but got trapped inside because of the snow? Check out my blog for pictures and more information!


Facebook Post for 13 Reasons Why Review Blog Post:

Looking for something new to watch on Netflix? Check out my review for Netflix’s new series, 13 Reasons Why on my blog!


Tweet For A Walk Through Holland Blog Post:

Is this weather making you catch Spring Fever? Check out my blog to see pictures of the flowers from the #2017PHSFlowerShow


Tweet For 13 Reasons Why Review:

Want to read a review of 13 Reasons Why without any spoilers? Check out my blog! #13ReasonsWhy #Review


You can promote your blog on instagram and snap chat by posting photos of your blog and attaching links. On instagram you can post the link to your blog in your bio. On snapchat you can type in the name of your blog or the URL on a picture and post that to your story so that all your friend on snapchat can see it.

Twitter: Changing the Way We Communicate and Chat One Tweet At A Time

The Many Uses of Twitter

There are several benefits to the Internet and social media outlets: connections from all over the world and information at your fingertips to name a few. Since we spend majority of our time engulfed in our devices, we lack communication skills and social interaction.

Twitter is used for more than just sharing short 140 characteristic updates about ones life and day, it is used by millions of people for several reasons. Twitter chats, sharing news, self-promotion, connecting over popular media such as television shows and movies, and so much more.

Example of celebrity self promotion


One of the most popular ways of interacting with millions of people through social media are through Twitter, tweeting messages using a hashtag, sharing your tweet with millions of people tweeting with the same hashtag and available to anyone who searches the hashtag. Now on popular television shows, new episodes will often have a hashtag for the show on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen for the duration of the show, encouraging viewers to tweet their thoughts and opinions to be shared with the world under the hashtag. Instead of having a face-to-face conversation about the show or event happening, people can interact via Twitter through hashtags.


Example of TV hashtag


A New Way of Chatting

As a result of the hashtag trend, Twitter chats have become the new chat rooms through the use of the same hashtag. People can schedule Twitter chats by creating a hashtag, setting a specific time and date for the chat, and posting it on the chat schedule website for people to join. Anyone who has a Twitter account can create and participate in a Twitter chat. Those who do not have a Twitter account can watch the chat happening by going onto the Twitter website and searching the hashtag that the chat is taking place under.


The Evolution of Communication Through Twitter

In its 11 years, Twitter has changed and influenced the ways in which we communicate with one another. In an article on CNN’s website, Doug Gross lists the five ways in which Twitter has caused these changes.

First, Twitter had created a fast flow of information. Using 140 characters, news can spread at rapid fire, especially with the usage of hashtags and trending stories. The second way Twitter has changed the ways in which we communicate is by removing the celebrity filter. What Gross means by this is that because of Twitter, celebrities tend to share information about themselves that their publicists normally would not release to the public.

The third, according to Gross, is that Twitter has created thought leaders. “When a single tweet puts your thoughts in front of hundreds of thousands of people, you’re able to help set the agenda in your community,” states Gross. Next is that Twitter has strengthened the second screen, meaning that no one has to watch a TV show alone anymore with the implementation of live tweeting under a certain hashtag during new episodes of television shows.

Finally, Gross states the fifth way Twitter has changed the ways in which we communicate by (over)simplifying the conversation. While users are restrained to only 140 characters, it allows the sharing of quick bits of information, however some users will continue to post several tweets until they have felt they have made their point.


Twitter Chats: a ‘How To’ Guide

There are several ways to participate in Twitter chats. Nicole Miller posts a Step-by-Step Guide to Hosting or Joining a Twitter chat in her blog. In her post, she shares several sites that can be used to find Twitter chats, such as the Tweet Reports and Twubs. Miller also provides helpful tools to make a Twitter hat more productive and run efficiently, such as Tweetchat, Nurph, Twchat, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Storify, that allow participants to reply faster to tweets and stay on track in the discussion, as it can be very hard to follow when many people are participating in the chat and responding to questions that were posted.

Similarly, in Janet Fouts’ blog The Mindful Social Media Coach, posts a descriptive ‘How-To’ guide for those who are interested in participating in Twitter chats. In her blog, she posts the steps that must be taken in order to participate, such as creating a Twitter account and how to find Twitter chats. Fotus also includes the same sites mentioned in Miller’s blog that allow participants to follow just the chat that they are participating in. Fotus provides detailed instructions on how to participate in the Twitter chats.


Why Twitter Chats are Important

Michelle Mislevy, a staff member of Albright College’s IT Department is also a professor that teaches an Educational Technology course to Albright’s pre-service teachers. Within her class, Mislevy incorporates various forms of technology, teaching students different tools that they can implement in their classroom. One of the assignments Mislevy gives to her students are a requirement of educational Twitter chats that students must participate in and log their experience in a blog post. In her course, Mislevy teaches students how to create Twitter accounts and find the chat schedule of education chats on Twitter.

Mislevy states that she came learned about Twitter chats through an advertisement for #edchat about four years ago. “I had a Twitter account for a year and didn’t know what to do with it,” states Mislevy. “I saw this thing for #edchat Tuesday’s at noon so I hopped on and I just became instantly hooked.”

Through following the #edchat, Mislevy found out about other Twitter chats that discussed educational topics. “Edchat is a Twitter chat but the #edchat is also used for a lot of stuff.” From participating in #edchat, Mislevy began following other participants, which led her to finding a link of scheduled chats with the topic, date, time, and hashtag to follow the chats under. “At the time there were only a handful and now there’s ‘hundreds every week.”

Twitter chats have changed the ways in which we communicate with one another, even future educators. While having social media accounts as an educator can seem a bit taboo, it can create networking with thousands of people across the world. “I think it’s changed the way we communicated through chats because we’re able to connect with people all over the world by a hashtag.”We’re actually able to become not just consumers but producers,” states Mislevy.  “It’s allowed us to connect to people that we normally wouldn’t be able to connect with and it’s allowed us to learn from each other.”

Mislevy believes that Twitter chats are a very important and helpful tool for pre-service teachers. She encourages her students to try different Twitter chats to learn about different educational topics for different participants. “It’s so important because it lets the students know there’s other methodology, there’s other pedagogy, there’s other ways of doing things in the classroom other than what you learn here, or what you observe in practicum, or what you see at student teaching in Berks County and what you’ve experienced. I think you’re actually seeing what teachers in California are doing, or teachers in Washington State, or in Maine, or Florida, and it validates what you’ve learned here,” states Mislevy. “It helps people make connections and it builds your professional learning network.”


Twitter chats have changed the ways in which we communicate, build connections, and watch television. Hashtags have opened the doors to users throughout the world, leading to conversations that may have never taken place without the help of Twitter.




Netflix’s New Series ’13 Reasons Why’ Brings Important Issues To Life

Netflix’s newest series, 13 Reasons Why, released last week hoping to make changes in the lives of it’s viewers. The show, based off of the book 13 Reasons Why written by Jay Asher tells the story of Clay Jensen, a high school student in his journey to listen to 13 cassette tapes left behind by his classmate and crush, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide. The tapes left behind name the 13 reasons why she decided to take her life and are sent to each person named on the tapes.

13 Reasons Why brings serious issues to life, such as rape, sexual assault, bullying, harassment, violence, depression and suicide in a graphic matter. The 13 episodes in the series address these issues with the hopes of bringing awareness to these issues and reminding viewers that their actions impact other people and that suicide is not the best option, there are ways to receive help.

At the beginning of episodes with graphic content, a warning message begins each episode for viewers who may be uncomfortable with the issue being shown in the episode. At the end of the series, producers encourage viewers who may feel depressed or suicidal or know of someone struggling with any of the issues depicted in the episodes to go to the show’s website for more information on hotlines and ways to receive help.

Concluding the series is an episode titled “Beyond the Reasons,” where cast and producers discuss why the show is so important in raising awareness and the impacts they hope it has on viewers. Executive Producer Brian Yorkey discusses why producers shot and filmed the show in such a graphic way, stating “We wanted to begin by telling the truth about what effect these events would have. We felt like if we could tell a story, not only with integrity, but hopefully one that had a chance to really resonate with young people who don’t necessarily get a steady diet of truth in their entertainment, and hopefully could stand as something that was an honest representation of their experience.”

13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix.




Albright College’s 24 Hour Challenge

For my info graph, I chose to create one based on my interview. For my interview, I wrote about the Assistant Director of the Fund for Albright, Amanda Walck. Walck is one of the leading forces on Albright’s 24 Hour Challenge. After interviewing her for this class, COM 315, and working the 24 Hour Challenge, I know a lot about it! So I decided to compare the results of this years challenge and the previous year. Here is the link to the info graph below.

A Walk Through Holland at the Philadelphia Flower Show

The Annual PHS Philadelphia Flower Show took place in the Pennsylvania Convention Center from March 11-19. This year, the show’s theme was Holland: Flowering the World. The flower show showcased extraordinary plants and displays, as well as award winning landscape and floral designers from the Netherlands. The proceeds from the show benefit programs hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The flower show attracts 250,000 visitors annually dating back to 1829. Alongside of the flower show included an exhibit called Butterflies Live: an interactive exhibit where visitors could interact with butterflies. Below are the pictures that I took on my trip to the flower show on March 15. My goal of my experience was to capture the beauty of the flower show.


At the PHS flower show, flowers were displayed in a variety of ways other than the normal arrangement in a pot or vase. Various different types of flowers were displayed dangling from the ceiling through string.
Tulips were the flowers that were most showcased in the show. Here is a shot of just a few of the thousands of tulips showcased.
A less popular flower that was displayed at the show with a unique variety of colors.
Flowers were displayed in all different types of ways, even in vases hanging from the ceiling overhead a walk through of a garden.
Another different type of display were showcasing flowers in everyday settings. In this photo, a bouquet of flowers were showcased in a dining room table display.
Flowers were also displayed with backdrops that were aesthetically pleasing.
A light display of varied orange flowers stood on it’s own in the middle of the show. It incorporated various objects as well into the display, such as cinder blocks.
A simple potted orange floral display still stands out on it’s own among the other extravagant displays.
At the entrance of the show was a huge bridge that was surrounded by water and various flowers. The side of the bride shows the walkway over the bridge, street lights and bicycles that really bring the display to life.
My aunt, Kathy, had a flower in her hair that attracted two monarch butterflies to her head during the Butterflies: Live exhibit.