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Friday, March 7, 2014

Why would the Florida Legislature even consider expanding vouchers?

In case you missed it the Florida Legislature is about to massively expand vouchers, including making money from sales taxes available and expanding vouchers so families making lots of money can get them too, which is both effectively welfare for the well off and greatly expands their intended purpose.

I know what some of you are thinking, you think vouchers are a good idea and should be expanded, well let me plead my case for a moment and then see if you still think that way.

The news has been full of stories recently about the horrible VAM teacher evaluations, they are generally considered to be abysmal and not representative of what is going on in our schools. This legislature that wants to expand vouchers is basically the same one that thought it was okay to evaluate most teachers based on students they never taught or met.

Then there is the A-F grading scale which likewise has made many headlines. It has been changed again and again by Tallahassee to the point that most people think it is meaningless. Another thing they are discussing in Tallahassee this session is a complete overhaul of it.

If that’s not enough think about charter schools. One of the best kept secrets in Florida is that over 250 have opened, taken money, then left families and communities in a lurch by closing over the years. That’s a third of all charter schools and then if your child is attending a charter school they are seven times more likely to be attending a failing one than if they were attending a public school.

Furthermore we are just a few years removed from the massive McKay scholarship scandals on 2011.

If this were baseball that would have been their forth strike and they would have been sent back to the bench. Undaunted though this legislature wants to meddle more.

With all these missteps shouldn’t we slow down and get it right and at least make sure the schools that receive vouchers now, over 160 of which teach creationism as science, are properly educating our children?. You would think the legislature would want to put in some accountability measures but at least the house who is all about accountability for public schools has shrugged its shoulders. Unless we have an apples to apples comparison between public schools and private schools that take vouchers unless they have the same accountability measures how will we know how they are doing. Will Weatherford and his friends in the house in their rush to expand vouchers think that is too much to ask.

With all these mistakes and abuses that have occurred over the last few years, the legislature, instead of draining more resources from resource starved public schools they should slow down and at the very least make sure vouchers work before expanding them.

At the beginning I asked why the Florida Legislature would even be thinking about expanding vouchers, well without accountability it is obviously not to help students, which should make us all wonder what their real motives are.

Finally I would submit if we really want education to improve then let’s get Tallahassee out of our schools.


  1. Picture a world where I can get a voucher to help offset the $20,000 a year tuition at Bolles. I can make up the difference. That's a great perk I don't get right now, but just wait...I will. Then there are those inner city families that will have to find a charter school who will accept only the voucher. Seems fair, right?

    Say what you will about public education, but at least the F schools get the same funding per student as the A schools (and often more). Public education may not be perfect, but at least it is equatable

  2. I don't understand why public money is going to church schools in the first place, and if public money is going to them then why don't they have to follow the same rules - testing, etc.? It's all extremely discouraging!