Cheating the Children

by Pat Drago

payoffSome policies are all about money.  When these come up, Fl. Representative Manny Diaz is often around.  He is the Dean at Doral College, the non-accredited place that offers dual enrollment online courses to charter school students taught by their high school teachers.  The credit doesn’t transfer, but maybe it saves money.  Now, Rep. Diaz is in the news again.  See how he wants to save money.

Fl. Rep. Manny Diaz, is quoted in Sunday’s Sentinel as saying that we need to look for more and new revenue sources to finance Florida’s voucher program, known as the Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship. Finally, Toto has pulled back the curtain and revealed the motive behind the plan –“ the scholarships save the state money because they cost less than paying for a public school seat.”

Right! It’s easy to save money on education when you don’t require certified teachers or follow a recognized curriculum. It’s also easy to point out how desirable a discount education is when you don’t use standardized tests in the private schools or publish the results. It is not a free ride, but it does offer a bargain for the state of 20% off for these children who will have no second chance for an education.

What is most appalling about Rep. Diaz’s comments is the total omission of the constitutional prohibition against direct or indirect expenditure of public funds in aid of religious institutions such as the private church schools we are sending most students to. The case is making its way through our courts right now. Any expansion of contributions or use of other revenue sources is reckless and disregards what could happen to the families who trust that the program will pass constitutional muster. I do not believe it will in its current form and any expansion places it at even greater risk.

Is this the state’s plan? Test, regulate, and micromanage every aspect of public education k-12 to drive parents from our neighborhood schools and then offer “scholarships” at private schools for 20% less. Last week’s (April 19) Sunday paper reported just how many of these schools are church run, with fewer than 100 students, and so many are largely dependent on the “vouchers,” oops, scholarships.

This is not an educational system or a plan to ensure that Florida’s children receive the high quality, education guaranteed to them in Florida’s constitution. No, this is a ruse disguised as choice. Watch the birdie, leave public schools, watch them decline and then bemoan the fate of today’s youth. Rep. Diaz –revealing the true scheme is all that is worthy here.

Posted in Florida, Tax credit scholarships.

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