Will Florida’s tax-credit voucher system hurt public schools?
By Roger Caldwell
In the African American community, a quality education is a challenge, and, in certain locations, non-existent. Black and minority schools are battlegrounds, and many of the students are so far behind that teachers don’t care because they will never catch up. As a result, schools operate as holding centers to keep the children off the streets while their parents go to work.
The Florida school system has many problems, and Governor Scott is a proponent of choice, and an advocate for the tax-credit voucher system. There are many different components to the Florida’s tax-credit voucher system, and many Black church schools, charter schools, home schools and online schools support the voucher system. The public schools are not teaching the students in certain locations, and it makes sense for parents to choose a different system.
At the present time, there is a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s Tax-Credit Scholarship Program, and being heard in front of Leon County Circuit Judge, George Reynolds. The lawsuit against the program was filed in August by the Florida Education Association, the Florida League of Women Voters, and other school groups.
“The Constitution of Florida specifically calls for a public system of high-quality public education. Private and for-profit schools are using marketing messages to entice low income families to leave their public schools. The league says “buyers beware –these schools are separate and unequal,” says Deirdre Macnab, president of the Florida League of Women Voters.
There is no one solution or methodology in educating our children in 2015. All around the country there is a movement to incorporate innovative concepts, new systems, and the use of ground-breaking technology to help our children learn. Florida is the second state in the country to initiate an Educational Savings Account (ESA), and everyone in education is looking forward.
Last year, Florida lawmakers appropriated $18.4 million to the ESA and this year Governor Scott is proposing an increase to $23.5 million. Scott has increased funding to charter schools, home schooling, online schooling and technical schools. Education has changed in 2015, and parents are taking a larger role in the education of their children.
In order to accommodate the different educational choices in Florida, it is necessary to appropriate more funding to all the systems, with a major focus on the public school system. “Instead of the exit strategy from public education that these programs represent, we need a renewed commitment to strong neighborhood public schools for every child,” says Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Florida Education Association will probably be defeated in its’ lawsuit against the tax-credit voucher system. There will be fraud in the system because corporations can donate taxes they owe to the state to Step Up For Students or AAA the Scholarship Foundation. The Florida ESA program will also be a nightmare to manage because once parents receive their checks for the education of their children someone must regulate how they spend that money.
Florida wants to take back control of their education system, and many argue that Common Core Standards are not the answer. Everywhere you turn, every education system is being challenged in Florida, while parents, teachers, and children are confused.