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Monday, May 12, 2014

Denise Amos leaves a lot out in her Florida Times Union voucher piece.

Mrs. Amos has really elevated education reporting here in the city; unfortunately she left a fair amount of relative and important information out of her piece about vouchers.  

First I believe she should have mentioned that Jason Fischer took 500 dollars from John Kirtley, the Tampa millionaire that runs Step up for Students, the states voucher organization.

Then she should have mentioned how Slate Magazine reported that 164 Florida schools, the second most in the nation, that take money for vouchers teach creationism as science including over a dozen in Jacksonville.

I think the people should also know that the modest voucher bill was only passed on the last day of the session when a 141 page amendment was folded into a popular bill that had already passed an unprecedented move and that ninety percent of the schools that receive vouchers are religious schools.

Furthermore people should know that during the legislative session Step up for Students the group that administers vouchers admitted that they use public money to lobby for more public money and their waiting list is kept on the back of an envelope.

Then finally she should have mentioned how at the beginning of the legislative session, voucher proponents were basically offered the key to the treasury if they  would have just accepted some legitimate accountability measures but instead of taking hundreds of millions more to help the students they claim are desperate for vouchers, they fought tooth and nail against them. Which begs the question why is accountability only good for public schools and even if they don’t think accountability is important why let the good be the enemy of the perfect? Why not take the money?

I believe they fought against it because they knew if they had to have stringent accountability measures, vouchers would have collapsed like a house of cards and to be honest why would we expect any less. Teachers at private schools don’t have to be certified let alone have degrees and their curriculums don’t have to be recognized.

Vouchers, which are a thinly veiled attempt to fund religious education, and should the public really be funding people’s religious choices, are a bad deal, but what is worse is when the public gets an incomplete picture of what is going on.

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