Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program
By Easton’s mom, Angie.
Our son Easton is 14 years old and has autism. He was in the public school setting for Pre-K, K and 1st grade. He was then moved from a mainstreamed classroom to a contained classroom at a different school.
At the new school, Easton was physically accosted in front of us by both his classroom teacher and his PE teacher. At one point, as only a first grader, he was put in a full-Nelson and thrown to the ground, despite the fact his IEP stated that they were never to touch him. If something like that happened in front of us, we were horrified to think what happened when we weren’t there. We knew Easton could not tell us about it.
“Thanks to the ESA program, Easton has had the same tutors and speech pathologist since 2013. He trusts them, looks forward to seeing them, and he has learned more than he would have learned had he stayed in a contained classroom.”
We filed a formal complaint with the school and the Federal Department of Education and we unenrolled Easton from the school that day. He has been homeschooled ever since. The Arizona ESA program makes that possible. It has been a Godsend for Easton and for our family. He now has private tutors and therapists who he loves and, most importantly, we know he’s safe when he’s with them!
Thanks to the ESA program, Easton has had the same tutors and speech pathologist since 2013. He trusts them, looks forward to seeing them, and he has learned more than he would have learned had he stayed in a contained classroom. He regressed in that environment because the students all have varying degrees of disabilities and the instruction was not specialized to any one child’s needs.
I have a Masters Degree, but the tutors that I am able to hire thanks to the ESA program have Masters Degrees in Special Education, Speech Pathology, etc. Easton needs that and he needs to be around others besides just myself and our family. One day we will not be here to take care of him and it is imperative that he learns from those that are better prepared to teach him than I am.
I have four other children that have all attended both public and private schools without an ESA. We all learn differently. Having a child with a disability, I am forever thankful for the ESA program! As hard as it is sometimes getting approvals for anything, I wouldn’t trade it for the alternative. We are very lucky in Arizona, because it’s not available in most states.
We all pay our taxes. We deserve to pick our child’s education. Whether it’s going to the public school, a charter school, a private school, or a family designed program through an ESA, it’s all the same: we want the best for all of our children and, most importantly, all of our children deserve to be educated in the best way that they possibly can.