Michael Carnuccio | December 4, 2014

Free Market Friday: Throw a life preserver

Michael Carnuccio

With the horrific and heartbreaking news coming out of an Oklahoma high school recently, including the alleged rape of a 16-year-old student in a bathroom during lunchtime, the issues of school safety and bullying are once again in the news.

Come to think of it, when are they not in the news? Incidents related to school safety and the sexual abuse of Oklahoma students are not uncommon, as is sadly documented over at the blog Choice Remarks (

We must provide these students a life preserver, right now.

In a 2012 speech at the state Capitol, Vicki Alger argued that parents with a reasonable apprehension for their children’s safety, including instances of bullying, deserve school vouchers immediately.

Alger, a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum in Washington, D.C., said parents should be allowed to transfer their children immediately to safer schools of their choice within or beyond their resident school districts, including public, charter, virtual or private schools.

Thankfully, that escape hatch already exists in Oklahoma – but only for some students.

Special-education students – those for whom an individualized education program, or IEP, has been developed – are eligible to receive a Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship to attend a private school.

Students like Phylicia, for example, who was bullied at her local elementary school in Tulsa.

“Sometimes kids would tease me about things and say what a retard I was, and it upset me really bad,” she said in a film called Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Stories.

YouTube it.

“So I would go into the bathroom and I would eat my lunch in there, or cry about it in the bathroom,” she said.
She even talked about killing herself, her mother says: “When Phylicia was in public schools, she would literally crawl in a ball because she did not want to go to school. To go back to that time now, it frightens me every time I think about it.”

It’s wonderful that Oklahoma’s political leaders were able to toss a life preserver to Phylicia and other special-education students.

They need to do the same for all children.

As Alger said, “students should not have to wait years at a time or become victims of crime before their parents are allowed to transfer them to safer schools.”

Michael Carnuccio

Former OCPA President

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