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.
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