Effort to Revive Voucher Expansion Criticized By FEA

FEA criticizes effort to revive voucher expansion by linking it to proposal for kids with special needs...


TALLAHASSEE -- An attempt by leaders in the Florida House of Representatives to revive legislation that would greatly expand a largely unaccountable voucher program by attaching it to an unrelated education proposal drew criticism this morning from the Florida Education Association (FEA).

The voucher expansion proposal was brought back to life earlier this week when Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, slapped the voucher language into a separate bill creating education savings accounts for children with special needs.

“Last week we were appalled to hear voucher advocates talk about using special needs kids to get into the voucher business,” said FEA Vice President Joanne McCall (see video). “Now we see them using special needs children to expand their business.”

McCall testified today before a House Education Appropriations subcommittee in opposition to the proposal (PCB EDAS 14-03).

“While we have concerns about these personal learning accounts for children with disabilities, I have to say as a teacher who taught disabled students daily, that this attempt to salvage expansion of the voucher program by attaching it to this bill is disingenuous to the public and to those of us who have dedicated our careers to working with students with disabilities,” McCall said. “Since we are combining previously unrelated concepts today, I would like to suggest we combine two others that are rarely seen in the same bill.  I suggest we link ‘choice’ and ‘accountability.’

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

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