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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

In Florida its trade scholarships for vouchers and everyone loses.

 Among many of the bad education bills making their way through Tallahassee perhaps the worst are SB 48, a bill expanding vouchers, and senate bill 86, curtailing bright futures. On the surface, it might seem like once you get past they both have to do with the education they are related to, but the truth is they are and that's because of money.

If Bright futures are curtailed for many kids, the state saves money, by expanding vouchers the state is losing money. That money has to come from somewhere so why not from our children's futures. 

From the Herald Tribune,

Imagine an education system modeled after where parents choose educational programming for their children from competing vendors listed on a Florida Department of Education online marketplace. This is what Florida state Sen. Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah) has in mind with Senate Bill 48 – the education scholarship programs proposal that was introduced last week.  

Diaz’s bill consolidates five of the six scholarship voucher programs into two programs: one for students with disabilities and the other for regular education students from low- and middle-income families. It switches out school vouchers for education savings accounts and funds these accounts directly from the Florida treasury. 

If this legislation passes, more than 220,000 of Florida’s students – or 8% of all students in the state – will receive education savings accounts. The leaders of Step Up for Students, the nonprofit that administers Florida’s scholarship programs, say that’s merely a starting point.

Diaz and the other supporters of Senate Bill 48 steadfastly ignore real solutions to the many problems that have historically plagued public education in Florida. Schools and communities, for example, have struggled for decades to achieve racial equity – and to close the achievement gap. Proven programs like full-service community schools and dual language programs are either underfunded or not funded at all. Meanwhile, vouchers to private schools have reached $1 billion.

Education saving accounts  are dangerous because they have all the bad features of school vouchers along with other troublesome features. While vouchers fund only private schools, education savings accounts can fund so much more. While vouchers have few regulations, education savings accounts have even fewer. 

In addition education savings accounts encourage homeschooling, learning pods, micro-schools and virtual schools; these are just some of the many options that parents can mix and match. The bottom line is that education savings accounts will create a 'free-for-all" atmosphere with "anything goes" curriculum – and with no general accountability and little transparency.

No accountability and little transparency, in Florida that sounds about right, and for all this crap all we have to do is cut out college scholarships for thousands of Florida's children.

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