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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

School vouchers lack both academic and financial accountability.

School vouchers have been in the news a lot recently but probably for the wrong reason.

According to Step for Student's the average private school that takes vouchers has 157 kids and 24% of them have vouchers or roughly 38 kids. The value of the voucher is 5,272 dollars which means and again this is according to Step up for Students the average school receives a little over two hundred thousand dollars. That figure is very important because also according to Step up for Students, every school receiving more than $250,000 in scholarship money each year must file a financial report by an independent CPA. Presumably the report tells us how the money given to them is being spent. This means for your average private school that takes hundreds of thousands of dollars that other wise would have went into the states coffers, we have no idea how the money is being spent. As I see it the system was set up that way because if not why not just have every school that gets money submit a report? What amount is to little that we shouldn't care about?

There are over 1,500 participating schools, of those at least several hundred do have to report, schools that take more than fifty students, so we can monitor how the money is being spent for them but for the vast majority that is not the case. With a wink and a nod Step up for Students and the state of Florida has told those schools keep it under 250,000 and we will look the other way and hope for the best. Once again all of the facts and figures above comes from Step up for Students, the group that administers the vouchers, website.

Now do I think all of those schools are on a 249,999.99 dollar gravy train, no, there are probably plenty of great private schools that take vouchers but I bet there are more than a few that are and thus far the state has no interest in assuring there is any accountability in how the money is spent.

The states voucher program as it is now, resists accountability both financially and academically, obliterates the First Amendment since 71% of the schools that receive them are religious, takes hundreds of millions of dollars out of the state coffers, 714 million this year alone and is a bad deal all around. 

Instead of siphoning money out of the state coffers and giving it private schools that have practically zero accountability, we should invest in our public schools.

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