TALLAHASSEE — All of our students, regardless of ZIP code, deserve the tools and resources to help them learn. Rather than fund costly, wasteful and ineffective experiments, policymakers should instead invest in proven strategies and effective programs in our neighborhood public schools, and provide our students and teachers sufficient funding so that all students have equal access to the resources they need to succeed.
Voucher schemes, often termed “scholarship” programs, fail to adequately serve our students. Thirty-five percent of students who receive a voucher in the form of a tax credit scholarship only participate in the program for one year. An additional 23 percent stay for only two years. Test data shows that when these students return to the public schools, they have worse performance in reading and math than students who never participated in the program.
Florida Education Association President Fedrick C. Ingram highlighted the exclusionary nature of vouchers: “Let us be clear. Vouchers do not create choice for parents, but rather choice for private schools — they can reject students based on economic status, academic achievement, disabilities, English proficiency, immigration status, sexual orientation or even gender.”
These programs ultimately deprive students of the rights and protections guaranteed in public schools. Despite receiving public money, private schools that participate in voucher programs are not subject to the same civil rights laws, and do not face the same accountability and transparency standards that our neighborhood public schools must meet, including those in Title VI, Title IX and IDEA. Taxpayer money should not fund private schools that are not accountable to the people of Florida.
FEA remains firm in its opposition to voucher schemes and calls on the Legislature to do right by all of Florida’s students by fulfilling the constitutional mandate to adequately fund our neighborhood public schools.