Skip to comments.Fla. Court Kills 'School Choice' Voucher System
Posted on 01/05/2006 1:45:36 PM PST by fuyb
The Florida Supreme Court struck down a statewide voucher system Thursday that allowed children to attend private schools at taxpayer expense - a program Gov. Jeb Bush considered one of his proudest achievements.
It was the nation's first statewide voucher program.
In a 5-2 ruling, the high court said the program violates the Florida Constitution's requirement of a uniform system of free public education.
About 700 children are attending private or parochial schools through the program. But the ruling will not become effective until the end of the school year.
Voucher opponents had also argued that the program violated the separation of church and state in giving tax dollars to parochial schools, and a lower court agreed. But the state Supreme Court did not address that issue.
Under the 1999 law, students at public schools that earn a failing grade from the state in two out of four years were eligible for vouchers to attend private schools.
Chief Justice Barbara Pariente said the program "diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools," which are the sole means set out in the state constitution for educating Florida children.
The ruling was a victory for public schools across the state and nation, said Ron Meyer, lead attorney for a coalition that challenged the voucher program.
"Students using vouchers will now be welcomed back into Florida public schools," Meyer said in a statement. "It decides with finality that the voucher program is unconstitutional."
The governor had no immediate comment on the ruling.
Anticipating the possibility of such a decision, Bush has been working on a backup plan to keep voucher students in private schools by providing tax credits to corporations that give students scholarships.
Clark Neily, an attorney who argued the case for voucher advocates, called the decision "a setback for those parents and children trapped in failing schools."
The U.S. Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support the state. Voucher opponents included the state teachers union, the Florida PTA, the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.
The ruling did not directly affect nearly 30,000 students in two other voucher programs for disabled and poor children, but it could be cited as a precedent.
As if competition is a bad thing.
Where is the outcry for "choice"? Oh wait... that doesn't apply to schools.
Well, Heaven forbid the public school system have to compete....then they might actually have to produce. Amend the state constitution immediately, imho
The court also said that the state constitution specificlaly requires public education to be even and equal and that vouchers would give some kids a superior education... sounds like a constitituional amendment is need ed to allow vouchers.
I like the first three words in the title, "Fla. Court Kills...". It seems so appropriate for what passes as justice in Florida these days.
the Flori-Duh Kangaroos Kourts strikes again!!
"The Florida Supreme Court struck down a statewide voucher system Thursday that allowed children to attend private schools at taxpayer expense"
Yet you can go to a private university at taxpayer expense...
And let the judges try to order an increase in taxes. Taxation without representation can only go on for so long.
So the court has ruled that the state schools are inferior? Sounds like grounds for another lawsuit on behalf of all those children trapped in it.
"The court also said that the state constitution specificlaly requires public education to be even and equal"
So because public schools are underperforming we must not allow private schools to compete. That's sounds like something from Scrappleface. Judicial mandating of mediocrity pure and simple.
Florida Supreme Court, Official Photo.
It's time to try something else. Vouchers just won't fly at the moment.
So how about this: everyone that sends their child to a private school gets a tax refund equal to some fraction of the amount they would have spent in taxes to educate their child in a public system.
Someone with a $2000 property tax bill where $1000 was used for public education might get a $750 refund if they sent their child to a private school, for example.
This to me seems completely fair and would be a good start.
This has almost nothing to do with "separation of church and state" (not a Constitutional imperative anyway). It has everything to do with the relative strength of teachers' unions and political clout at various levels.
Apparently even "non-denominational" private schools are also excluded from participating in the program.
The ultimate losers are the children who, for want of a viable alternative, are forced to be warehoused in non-performing public schools, and doomed to a life of unrealized potential. Not all of them, of course, as there shall be some very savvy students who rise above the limitations of their scholastic surroundings, and manage to teach themselves, becoming true stars of learning excellence.
But these same individuals may very well have fallen into a cycle of despair and failure instead. And that would have been the unforgivable crime against all humanity.
Equal&Equality isnt these just wonderful words.
Equality is in the constitution but the way I read it is equality under the law, not equally at falling. I suggest we give them all $10,000 and let the parents chose and call it a day. I strongly believe a large majority and serous issue in our educational system will be solved overnight. Competition is a wonderful thing and should be embraced.
Equality is in the constitution but the way I read it is equality under the law, not equally at falling. I suggest we give them all $10,000 and let the parents chose and call it a day. I strongly believe a large majority and serous issue in our educational system will be solved overnight. Competition is a wonderful thing and should be embraced."
I suspect we'd have a lot of parents with plasma TVs and a lot of uneducated kids.
A kid could just purposefully fail a couple of years just to make taxpayers pay for private schooling.
Not only that, but why should I have to pay for your kid to go to private school, when I can't afford it myself?
AND, kids who fail a lot are generally troublemakers. If I paid for my kids to go to private school, I would not want a bunch of these kids there.
I don't get this voucher thing. And I don't get why conservatives are generally for it. It is a socialist program. Want a good education for your children? Work hard, pay the tuition for your own kid, or homeschool them.
Now, improving public schools is another argument.
On we go to the Alito/Roberts Supreme Court!!!
Why should the parents who send their children to private school have to pay school taxes that won't benefit their own children? To me that sounds just as socialist as a voucher program if not more so.
Legislating from the bench again. Florida schools are doomed. The Courts have put the legislature in a straight jacket. Basically, they are blackballing any idea that the legislature might come up with that would fix the problem, other than the higher taxes, which the voters will reject. So that leaves the Florida schools with no alternative but to sink further into the mire.
What's wrong with giving largely failed, or at best mediocre public schools some competition? And public education isn't "free." One could easily make the argument that the public money spent on the existing public education system could be put to better use. Public schools aren't any more "free" than private schools.
You're assuming that the Florida Supreme Court actually has to defer to the written law.
Precisely. Aren't these the same jokers who ignored how Florida election laws define a "vote," and tried to hand the 2000 election to Al Gore?
Under the 1999 law, students at public schools that earn a failing grade from the state in two out of four years were eligible for vouchers to attend private schools.Notice that the subordinate clause (marked in bold) modifies the word "schools" and not the word "students." In other words, under the program kids could transfer if their schools were failing--not if the kids themselves were flunking out of school.
(I am tempted to ask if you are a public school graduate, but will politely refrain.)
Seriously, I think this should be tried. We homeschooled our kids, paid for all their books and materials, funded our attendance at homeschool conferences and conventions to learn about teaching techniques and curricula, and yet the state and local governments continued to tax us to fund a public education system our children weren't part of. We should have at least been given a tax credit for the cost of educating our own children.
"I suspect we'd have a lot of parents with plasma TVs and a lot of uneducated kids."
Maybe I should have elaborated a little. How about this idea?
If a public school was spending $10,000 per pupil, per year, then the parents of that child could use the $10,000 to keep their kid at his/her current public school or spend it on any other school they wish. They can only spend this money on the education of their child and don't have access to the account; they just dictate to an Administrator which school receives the money. Any money unspent is returned to the government as general revenue. The current public schools retain their full funding as long as parents choose to continue their children's education there. There is no accreditation needed to open a Charter school. Charter schools may be registered as nonprofit (like the public schools), or for-profit. There is no limit on the number of students that may be accepted to any one Charter school, no limit on the amount of profit a Charter school can make, and no conditions on how they spend their money. Charter schools have full discretion to pay their teachers whatever salary they wish and free reign to hire and fire whoever they wish, regardless of background or qualification. Charter schools that falsely advertise or mislead parents about any aspect of their school, from the qualifications of their teaching staff, to the test scores of their students, will be considered in breach of contract and can be sued by the parents and/or prosecuted by the state in a court of law. To prevent fraud and abuse, a parent who homeschools cannot qualify as a Charter school. All private schools are reclassified as Charter schools and may receive the maximum per child funding. So a Private/Charter school that charged $20,000/year tuition would receive the regular $10k from that child's government account and the parents would continue to pay the remaining $10k out of pocket.
Dang, I made a mistake. So sorry. You don't have to be so crappy about it.
The point is producing educated, literate, socially functional children at the end of the process. As long as government accepts the notion that public money should go toward that end, why shouldn't parents have a say in how those public funds are expended on their children? You want your children to go to public schools? Fine. That's your *choice.* But why shouldn't I get the equivalent of what the government pays out for Average Daily Attendance for educating your kids so that I can exercise my *choice* on where my kids are educated? Forcing public education as the only choice is closer to your socialism characterization.
I was tempted to ask if the poster was a public school employee.
There is nothing free about public schools when they are run by unionized public workers. They are socialist training camps.
However, if that were the case, then people with no children would not have to pay into the system, either. And if you remove all of those people, public schools go under.
Or, the mill levy for those who do have children goes way, way up, and then in essence it becomes a privately funded school, i.e. only those with students pay for the school.
The premise I suppose is that society in general benefits when children are educated, so we all throw into the pot.
Problem is, liberals and unions have ruined our public schools.
So, what is the answer?
For me, it is to send my children to suburban public schools, while I, as the parent, pick up any educational slack, which is my responsibility as a parent.
"A kid could just purposefully fail a couple of years just to make taxpayers pay for private schooling."
Wrong, it is kids in failing SCHOOLS.
Meaning - if your school fails levels of performance, kids in that school get a voucher.
This is so absurd. It is a very limited program and the tortured logic of this kangaroo court would also have to outlaw *any* special program ... you know like:
- special education
- talented and gifted
- remedial reading
... it defies logic and common sense.
Now, based on your comments, you clearly misunderstand the voucher programs. Its not for 'failing students'. Ideally, the state would give a flat-rate voucher to EVERY child and be done with it. Then you comment ... "why should I have to pay for your kid to go to private school, when I can't afford it myself?"
would be irrelevent.
"I don't get this voucher thing. And I don't get why conservatives are generally for it. It is a socialist program."
WRONG. Look at it this way:
Public education is the SOVIET-style socialism.
Government pays for it, hires and fires everybody, and has a monopoly.
Voucher is more like the way we have higher education in the USA today: Government pays and subsidizes students, but students have a choice of where to attend, which can be a mix of private institutions or public ones.
"Want a good education for your children? Work hard, pay the
Work hard, pay the tuition for your own kid, or homeschool them.
"improving public schools is another argument."
that is the point of vouchers - choice means better education for ALL. the monopoly school system
is incapable of improving, just like ANY monopoly, without competition. The teachers unions hate competition because it means efficiency, and they WANT the inefficiency in the system. Choice will force the laggards to get better or lose their students.
In New Zealand the result was better *public* schools, not just more choice.
"As long as government accepts the notion that public money should go toward that end, why shouldn't parents have a say in how those public funds are expended on their children?"
If they did, the liberal stranglehold on the next generation would cease.
Thank goodness the court stepped in and stopped those kids from getting a superior education.
Well, see, that is what I was missing. I misread it. Sorry!
I have never really paid much attention to the voucher thing, as it is not an issue in my area.
So, what is the answer?
Start off by taking back some control over those hard earned dollars. I've sent my kids to public and private schools, and neither are perfect. However, when the private school screws up they know about it because you take your child out of the school, and they lose $$$. This doesn't happen in the public school setting, and it's high time to change that. Vouchers is a great way to get competition in the arena, so that public schools (teachers unions) stop misusing the tax dollars. They won't learn the lesson if there are no consequences to their poor choices on how to spend that money. To them, it's all monopoly money anyway. It has to become real to them to get them to face up to making changes...for the good of society.
And if the voucher gives you what it costs to educate your kid in a public system, it would never cover the cost of a private school. How does that work?
Bingo! Hence, the real reason the left opposes school choice.
Baloney. Where we are, the public schools get way more per student spending than it costs per student at many Catholic schools. It must go towards all those finely architectured air-conditioned buildings, which are very nice to have, but certainly not necessary to getting a decent education. There are very few Catholic schools in our area that can compete facility-wise with the public schools I've been in.
"Thank goodness the court stepped in and stopped those kids from getting a superior education."
And Im sure the intnet of the law was good - it was so kids across the state would recieve a certain quality of education even if their district was poor. But it sounds like the constitution needs to be changed to reflect current needs.
All public schools should be turned over to private education companies (a whole new industry). This would eliminate about 50-60% of state & local taxes, and give parents and students complete freedom to choose how education dollars are spent.
But naturally a leftist, collectivist, socialist, or Democrat will say in response that parents can't be trusted with making decisions about where to send the kids to school, for how long, what to learn, or how much to pay. The same anti-capitalists are in favor of price controls, wage controls, production controls, thought control, gun control, abortion on demand, same-sex marriages, and taking my private property in order to give it to someone else.
Not where I live. Not only to you have to be a member of the Catholic church to go to the Catholic schools here, they ask that you tithe 10% of your income. If you cannot afford that, you have to prove that you cannot. But you still have to belong to the parish.
You have to belong to the parish most of the time, but that can be relaxed for a number of reasons. Around here, you have to state which parish you belong to, because not every parish has a school. They do request that you donate what is subsidized by the parish, so that they can recoup their expeditures as much as possible. However, it is just as commonly requested that you be a regularly donating member (weekly, monthly, bimonthly, etc.) or to offer your time and talents volunteering at the school or parish. There is also usually a "non-participating" tuition rate that is higher for those who aren't Catholic, but for some schools, there are long waiting lists. Usually they are the ones that have better success rates, and can "afford" to be a little picky, because there is always another student waiting to get in to replace the one who left.
Like I said earlier, I've had my kids enrolled both ways and I don't prefer one over the other. I look for good schools regardless of whether public or private. Neither are perfect, and neither should have a monopoly.