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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Making Your Voices Heard

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There are many ways to be heard.  Responding to the DOE webinar and survey is one.  Writing your legislators both at the state and national levels is another.  Showing up  at school board meetings can help.  In the end, we will also need the courts.

There is a lawsuit:  Citizens for Strong Schools that comes to trial in March.  The suit supports public schools based on Florida’s constitutional requirement for a unified, strong, efficient, high quality system.  Note the word ‘unified’.  The school reform movement advocates privatizing our schools by creating charters and tax credit scholarships to private schools.

Testing is the accountability strategy for school reform.

Southern Legal Counsel is the firm that has filed the Citizen’s for Strong Schools lawsuit.  They are operating pro bono.  If you can help them raise money to cover expenses, then go to their website.  You can donate there.  Just click the DONATE button.  Any amount can help.

 

Charters Unconstitutional in Washington State

justiceLate yesterday, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that charter schools were unconstitutional.  The lawsuit was brought by the League of Women Voters, the Washington Education Association, and the State District Superintendents.  Charters are new to Washington, only a few opened last year.  More are scheduled to open this year.  There is a twenty day period for response to the ruling.

The basis for the ruling is explained below.

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Southern Legal Counsel’s Education Protection Fund

justiceMost of you know that the Citizens for Strong Schools and the Southern Legal Counsel have a lawsuit coming to trial in March 2016.  The State of Florida fought all the way to the Florida Supreme Court to keep it from coming to trial.  They lost.  Now, Southern Legal Counsel is preparing its case.  This is costly, and the firm is a non-profit.  Their attorneys are working pro bono for our schools.  They are in the throes of fund raising.  You can see a short video on their case here.

Florida Judge’s Decision “No Harm No Foul” Appealed

justiceWhen something is wrong, do you ignore it or fix it?  The Florida Education Association, the PTA and the Florida League of Women Voters said vouchers by any name are wrong and filed suit.  A Leon County circuit judge disallowed the suit for lack of standing.  Basically, this means that the attorneys did not convince the judge that tax credit scholarships harmed public schools.  Is this a no harm, no foul issue?  The FEA attorneys say ‘NO’.

The judge did not rule on the merits of the case.  Floridians  have already voted overwhelmingly to disallow funding for private schools.  Vouchers are not roses, and the smell of tax credit scholarships is not sweet.  The FEA has appealed the case.  What are the merits?

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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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