Re: Florida Vouchers
Woo-hoo!!! This is fan-freakin'-tastic news!
On Jan 5, 2006, at 1:01 PM, Robert Arosteguy wrote:
Fla. Court Strikes Down School Vouchers
By BILL KACZOR, Associated Press Writer
51 minutes ago
The Florida Supreme Court struck down a voucher system
that allowed some children to attend private schools
at taxpayer expense, saying Thursday that it violates
the state constitution's requirement of a uniform
system of free public schools.
The 5-2 opinion struck down the Opportunity
Scholarship Program, championed by Gov. Jeb Bush,
which was the nation's first statewide system of
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
Judges had allowed the state to continue the program
while the case was on appeal, and about 700 children
are attending private or parochial schools through the
About 24,000 more attend such schools under more
recently created programs, including one for children
with disabilities. Thursday's ruling did not directly
affect those programs but could eventually be cited as
Chief Justice Barbara Pariente, writing for the
majority of the court, said the Opportunity
Scholarship 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.
Private schools also are not uniform when compared
with each other or the public system, and are exempt
from many standards imposed by law on public schools,
such as mandatory testing, she added.
The 1st District Court of Appeal had ruled that the
system violated the separation of church and state in
the Florida Constitution, but the state Supreme Court
did not address that issue.
At a hearing last June, Barry Richard, representing
the state, told the court that lawmakers have the
"quintessential power" to spend state money as they
see fit, including spending it on private school
Voucher opponents argued that the program
unconstitutionally diverted money from public to
private schools, and that it violated the separation
of church and state.
The U.S. Department of Justice was among those filing
friend-of-the-court briefs in support the state.
Supporters of voucher opponents included the Florida
Education Association, the Florida PTA, the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People and
the League of Women Voters.
Two more recent voucher programs dwarf the
"opportunity scholarships." Nearly 14,000 students
attend private schools on state-funded McKay
scholarships, which was created for children with
disabilities. An additional 10,000 poor children
attend private schools on scholarships funded by
businesses that get tax credits from the state.
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