Past State Board of Education Chair Says It is all about Money!

race-653241_1280Tax credit vouchers are supposed to give poor children an option out of a failing school.  Gary Chartrand, former Chair, Florida State Board of Education, tells it like it really is.

Chartrand makes a case that getting children from poor families out of public schools saves the rest of us money.  There may be another not so hidden agenda that Chartrand forgets to mention.

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ALEC Admits Vouchers are for Suburbia

housesVouchers for private school tuition were supposed to be for at risk children in poor neighborhoods.  In Florida, that assumption was dropped when the legislature expanded eligibility for tax credit scholarships to include family incomes up to $62,000.  Now, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is more concerned about the high cost of tuition for middle class families.  They want to help.

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Sweden Shows U.S. How to Fail

sweden dalahorse-714901_1280Back in the 90s, Sweden had free Pre K for all students.  There was no selective admissions.  Everyone went to public schools.  The system thrived, and their first PISA achievement scores were very high.

Then the Swedes bought into school choice.  They have the greatest decline in achievement of any OECD nation.   What happened?  We can learn from them.

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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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Is Public Education Dead in Nevada?

death valleyRemember the Personal Learning Accounts Florida enacted last year for K12 students with disabilities?  They provide about $10,000 for private school tuition, services and other materials.  Public school students are not eligible, but home schoolers are.

Nevada has outdone Florida.  Almost everyone can receive some money.  Will public education become a waste land?

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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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Private Schools Respond to Public Money

church and stateThis Orlando Sentinel article turns data into description.  How Florida’s tax credit scholarships and McKay vouchers for students with disabilities impacts private schools is the topic.

Some private schools operate solely on public money.  Others combine public scholarships and tuition.  Some do not take public money.

The rules for private schools are different.  Public accountability is limited.  Teachers do not need certification.  Academic achievement is mixed.  The Sentinel story has been excerpted below.  It is a side of the story worth telling.  What we do not know is if it is money well spent.

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Main Voucher Bill in Tennessee is Withdrawn

The main voucher bill HB 1039 in Tennessee died yesterday.  This bill was similar to the Opportunity Scholarships that was declared unconstitutional in Florida.  Tennessee’s version would give vouchers to students who qualified for free and reduced lunch and were enrolled in a school with achievement scores in the bottom 5 percent.  A second bill, HB 138 survived.  It would provide vouchers for students with special needs who have IEPs.  While HB 138 has not become law, it was voted out of committee and is proceeding through the legislative process.  Anne-Marie Farmer’s post in this blog describes the bills.