Email Insights: FEA rallies against school vouchers

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The Florida Education Association calls the state’s private school voucher program is a “risky experiment” that “gambles” with both taxpayer money and children’s lives.

In an email sent out Tuesday to supporters, the group representing pre-K to 12 teachers, staff and students seeking to enter the teaching field, believes House bill— calling for the expansion of the program designed to help low-income children attend private schools — shifts millions of dollars into the voucher program, with little or no accountability.

“These changes move Florida further and further away from the constitutionally required system of free public schools,” says Florida Education Vice President Joanne McCall. “These voucher schools don’t have to follow state academic standards, don’t have to hire qualified teachers and don’t have to prove they are using public money wisely.” 

At issue with the FEA are two House bills: one allowing Florida retailers to pay for the voucher program with sales taxes while the other looks to expand the program to help parents of severely challenged homeschooled students with educational costs

The FEA claims that both bills lack basic accountability for additional revenue streams — and that vouchers siphon much-needed money away from Florida’s constitutionally mandated public school system.

According to McCall, there is no evidence that private schools improve student achievement, and the money would be better spent on improving lower-performing public schools.

For private schools to receive a higher level of available funds, the FEA says, they must be held accountable—not only financially, but also on who, what and how they teach students.

Properly educating students will always be a top priority — for parents, students, educators and lawmakers—guaranteeing the voucher program (in whatever form) continues to be controversial for those with children’s best interest at heart.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.