Legislative leaders in Florida are trying to inflate the state's school-voucher program (called the Tax Credit Scholarship program). The program affords tax credits to businesses that fund underprivileged children's education with scholarships to private schools ( http://www.floridaschoolchoice.org/ ). Recently, a proposal to increase the $286,000,000 program by another $120,000,000 over a four year span is making its way through administration with little to no opposition.
The Tax Credit Scholarship program typically funds approximately 60,000 students through scholarships, allowing them to attend private schools (80%+ percent of which are religious).
Although this appears beneficial, there is a downside. The voucher program was originally produced to allow parents that were unhappy with their local public schools enroll their children in private institutions. Unfortunately, this is money that could have been employed to improve the current public school system. This creates a depreciative cycle, leading parents to seek out opportunities for these vouchers even more.
Nearly a decade ago, the Editorial Board believed that the increased competition with public schools would be good, acting as an incentive to improve educational standards. To be fair, to a large extent, that did actually occur; the GPA increase in many school districts is evidence of that alone although it's difficult to determine if that was due to the pressure from competition or other factors.
Regrettably, supporters of the proposition, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity as well as think tanks such as the James Madison Institute and former governor Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future have thrown a lot of ingratiatory power and money into election campaigns to get pro-voucher legislation passed.
This has been an ongoing debate in major Florida cities; for example, Tallahassee has had its fair share of history involving the voucher disputation.
Last week a House committee in Tallahassee voted to approve an expansion plan that would include eliminate some of the eligibility restrictions for students seeking vouchers and offer partial scholarships to families earning more than $60,000 a year. Eliminating much of the “disadvantaged” qualifications. The closing of the gap of admission isn't the only problem, many scholars dispute even the effectiveness of voucher programs.
As seen in the above video, Julia Rubin of “Save Our Schools NJ” explains the multifaceted issues with the voucher model. However, before getting into the issues, I would like to cite one more short clip from American's United For Separation From Church and State and the National Coalition for Public Education explaining why voucher legislation doesn't actually help.
So first, let's just look at the really obvious statistics. If vouchers did...