School Voucher Program May Be in Jeopardy

Florida Education
Posted at 9:14 PM, Feb 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-09 16:30:25-05

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (WTXL) - Monday Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds heard arguments about whether he should dismiss a constitutional challenge to the voucher-like Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program.

The Florida News Service reports, The Florida Education Association teachers union and other groups launched the challenge to the program, which helps send children to attend private schools. Close to 70,000 low income children use the scholarships. Joanne McCall is the vice president of the Florida Education Association, which is the state's largest teachers union and plaintiff in the suit. She says the best way to fix education in Florida is for the state to spend more money on traditional public schools.

"It doesn't matter how you slice it. When you are diverting tax dollars into a private voucher system, and you are making a parallel system that is not accountable, you have diverted away from the constitution."

Marlene Desdunes teaches first grade at a public school in Miami-Dade County and says, her son would not have gotten a quality education at the public school he was zoned for, and the tax credit scholarship program gave her family options.

"As a parent, I was not comfortable with my middle school that he would have gone to. Therefore the tax credit scholarship program gave me a choice to enroll him into a private school where I felt he would thrive."

In the scholarship program, corporations can receive tax credits for money they donate to organizations that then help pay for students to attend private schools.

The FEA's lawsuit contends the program violates part of the Florida Constitution that says it is a "paramount duty of the state" to make adequate provision for a "uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of free public schools."