Over the past few days, my Facebook feed has been abuzz with the story of Dakota Nafzinger. Dakota, a blind eight year old, who had his cane taken away for bad behavior. In its place, his school gave him a pool noodle. Fox 4 in Kansas City reports:
The school wouldn’t go on camera, but North Kansas City School District Spokeswoman Michelle Cronk confirmed taking away Dakota’s cane, calling it school property that was given to him when he enrolled. They said they took it away after he reportedly hit someone with it and wanted to prevent him from hurting himself or others.
It may be unfair to judge the school or district based on this one instance, but this story brings up the incredibly important issue of educational options. What option did the parents have when the school clearly made a gross mistake? They could call the school, report the issue to the school board, and even get the news involved. At the end of the day, however, Dakota has to go back to Gracemore Elementary School. Of course, he could go to another school if his parents have the financial means.
Contrast this story with those of Jordan and Salima. Like Dakota, Jordan and Salima have special needs which make it difficult for them to function in a traditional public school; however, they have options. Jordan and Salima are fortunate to live in Arizona, the first state in the nation to adopt Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs). Through the use of their ESA funds, Jordan and Salima’s parents are able to customize their child’s education to meet their unique needs. I challenge you to watch their stories below.
It is perfectly fine to look at what happened in Kansas City with Dakota Nafzinger and the pool noodle and be appalled. The appropriate response, however, is not simply to like or share his story on social media and move on. No, the next step is to educate yourself and advocate for expanded educational options for students like Dakota. Below are several resources to get you started.
School Choice Resources: