February 1, 2023

Voucher plan a threat to public education [Palm Beach Post]

Palm Beach Post writes:

"It was billed as an educational reform, although many saw it for what it was — a threat to Florida's public schools. In 1999, Gov. Jeb Bush signed the A-Plus program into law, a school-choice initiative that came with tough academic standards and the promise of using public-school funding to pay for private-school vouchers.

Those so-called 'opportunity scholarships' were supposed to help a small group of students stuck in chronically failing public schools. 'Small' was the operative word that made the policy palatable. What other justification was there to divert public school funding to unregulated, non-sectarian and religious schools? But, critics of the plan believed the initiative was just the start of draining public funds from a system that serves 2.8 million students.


Turns out they were right. The Florida House of Representatives now is fast-tracking legislation that would open up the state-backed private school vouchers to almost anyone who wants one, an expansion that would divert billions of dollars of tax revenue needed by the state's public schools. That cost apparently is no object. One estimate, by the Orlando-based Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added], puts the figure at $2.4 billion in 2024. The legislation would have 'an indeterminate fiscal impact,' according to the bill's staff analysis, as state funding follows the students. The more students avail themselves of vouchers, the less money for public schools."

Read the rest of the story at: palmbeachpost.com

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