Voucher Lawsuit Appeal: When is a tax a tax?

justiceOral arguments were heard in the Joanne McCall vs. Governor Scott lawsuit yesterday.  The Florida Education Association, Florida League of Women Voters and the NAACP support the suit.  It is not clear that the judges in the First District Court of Appeals agree.  They must now decide whether the trial will go forward. A video of the hearing will be available on the Florida 1st District Court of Appeal soon.

The issue is whether tax credit vouchers to send students to private, mostly religious schools is constitutional.

 

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Lawsuit Testimony Can Break Your Heart

justiceFlorida’s educational system is on trial in Tallahassee.  The charge?  One million Florida students cannot read at grade level.  Testimony about the plight of these children can break your heart.  Thousands are homeless.  Most are from poor families.  In some rural counties children are too hungry to learn, and schools provide three meals a day.  These children, the plaintiffs argue need much more than school districts can provide with current funding.  

The Florida League of Women Voters recognizes that the solutions to these problems are complex, but applauds the attention the suit brings to the weaknesses in our educational system.  What are the arguments and what is the defense?  What do the witnesses say? 

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Florida Citizens for Strong Schools Lawsuit Moves Forward

justiceWhile Circuit Court Judge Reynolds denied a request for a summary judgment to halt the voucher and tax credit scholarship programs, the Citizens for Strong Schools case continues.  The judge ruled that the attorneys for the case did not show harm to the defendants due to vouchers and tax credit scholarships for private schools, but argument could be made when the case comes to trial in March, 2016.

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Florida Voucher Issue Rejected by Circuit Court

justiceThe Florida Educational Association lawsuit was thrown out of court recently, as you know.

Another case, Citizens for Strong Schools, is working through the courts.  It hit a bump in the road.  In a December 7th article reported by the Associated Press, Judge Reynolds rejected a portion of the Citizen’s for Strong Schools lawsuit dealing with vouchers.  The issue was lack of legal standing.  What does this mean?  What happens next?

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Growth Slowing in Statewide Voucher Programs

payoffVoucher programs, funded directly by states for private school tuition, are yet another form of school choice.  Vouchers are now unconstitutional in Florida which was the first state to implement them. They were replaced by corporate tax credit scholarships.  In spite of the state supreme court decision, vouchers for students with disabilities have not been challenged in court.

North Carolina’s vouchers are under appeal.  New York’s legislature is currently battling over whether to fund forms of vouchers and tax credits.   The legal basis for vouchers varies due to differences in wording in state constitutions.  Florida’s constitution Bush vs Holmes clearly specified that funds must go to public schools.  A similar argument is being made in North Carolina.

The Center for Evaluation in Education Policy at Indiana University reports on private school vouchers in the four states that offer them for general education students.  These are new, rapidly growing programs that now may be slowing.  How they differ is instructive.

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Florida League of Women Voters Positions on School Choice

lwv florida logoSome of you have been asking about the Florida League positions on school choice.  The positions were formally adopted at the convention last year.  They will be included in Study and Action when it is updated.  The League strongly opposes tax credit scholarships.  The Florida League  supports Florida’s constitution provision for a uniform, efficient, high quality public school system.  While charter schools are legally public schools, the League supports stronger district management and oversight to make them better conform to constitutional requirements.  Specific principles and positions are listed below.

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