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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Tue Mar 29th 2011, 09:49 PM
Actually this is becoming true in other areas of Florida as well as vouchers are expanded.

This is a very enlightening article in the Sun Sentinel. It lays out how these vouchers work, and how they are managing to defund public education. With Rick Scott's love of all types of vouchers, they are going to pose a big problem here.

This is a 3 page article, and it is hard to condense into just a few snips.

Broward private schools benefit from vouchers while public schools are strapped

First the article points out that about a quarter of the students in private schools are on vouchers, and most of these schools are religious ones.

The Broward school with the biggest number of voucher students — 169 of its 361 enrollment — is Nur Ul Islam Academy in Cooper City, which has received about $694,000 from the state. The second biggest beneficiary is Phyl's Academy Preparatory School in Lauderdale Lakes. Vouchers helped pay tuition for 132 of its 356 students, for a total of about $542,000.

This program gives tax relief to corporations who help students go to these private schools. It takes money that would have gone to public schools via taxes and gives it to private schools which are not required to hired certified teachers and not required to meet state academic standards.

Because of this tax relief to corporations, there is projected to be 31 million cut from money going to public schools via taxes by 31 million dollars in 2011.

The program allows corporations that make contributions deduct those gifts from their corporate income and insurance premium taxes. Economists expect the expansion would cost the state $31 million in lost taxes next year and as much as $228 million in future years – although those losses would be offset somewhat because taxpayers would pay less for students in the program than if they were attending public schools.

Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and whose families meet certain income requirements can apply for these vouchers.

Tax-credit vouchers are funded with corporate donations, but it's money that otherwise would have been paid in state taxes. About 100 companies donated last year, including Walgreen Co., Burger King, ABC Liquors and Bankers Insurance Group. The average contribution is $1 million, East said.

Private schools that take vouchers must give students a standardized test — not the FCAT — but schools aren't graded and scores are released only for schools with at least 30 students.

So those schools do not have the same accountability standards, and they can keep their scores from going public by having a certain number of students.

Recently 8 Catholic schools and one evangelical school turned charter to get public funding. These vouchers also help the religious schools stay afloat.

Some high-end religious schools, however, do accept vouchers. Cardinal Gibbons High, which charges $9,500 a year for non-Catholics, took 31 students on vouchers. St. Thomas Aquinas High accepted 17. That's in line with a recommendation from the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools in Miramar that schools admit no more than 10 percent voucher students to avoid getting into financial trouble should the program suddenly disappear.

It's a practical financial matter to them as much or more than concern about what's best for the children.

Governor Rick Scott has some diabolic plans for the schools using vouchers. He calls them his Education Savings Accounts. It's just another way to get around the courts' ruling that public school money should not go to private schools. Those rulings were in 2002, 2004, and 2006.

They are still trying to do an end run around them.

Rick Scott wants to give $5500 to students who want to go elsewhere, private or otherwise.

He just want to give them that the public schools will lose. This is called destroying public education.

The new governor and his advisory team on education don't seem to care what respected studies or the law say about poverty, merit pay or vouchers, but they seem destined to try the opposite of what sound research says should work. This plan is not about school choice; it's about putting profit before education.

His first step is "Education Savings Accounts," which are the new rebranding of vouchers. Gov. Rick Scott's goal is to give $5,500 to parents directly so they can choose where to send the student, public or private. The Florida Supreme Court ruled this type of voucher system unconstitutional (Bush vs. Holmes); violating among other components the requirement of providing a system of uniform, free public schools. Why would Scott going to waste dwindling tax money on fighting for something that is unconstitutional?

Will this money allow a disadvantaged student to afford a swanky private school? No. Private schools will raise their prices and pocket extra public tax dollars for their own purposes. Charter schools will quickly switch to private schools, preventing any public oversight or accountability. Restructured as private schools, they will open up without county approval and try to crowd out public schools. Unlike public schools, private schools are not be required to provide transportation, give the FCAT, have state-certified teachers, follow Florida's course guidelines or meet class-size restrictions, along with insufficiencies in many other areas. Most important, they can kick students out their school for any reason and selectively recruit the best students from the public school system.

He doesn't seem to care if it has been ruled unconstitutional.

There is a great Mother Jones article about how Rick Scott plans to harm public education.

Rick Scott's School Plan for Scoundrels

Conservatives have been plotting for years to blow up the public school system. Now, Florida's incoming governor Rick Scott is poised to light the fuse.

During his campaign, Scott pledged to overhaul the state's schools while simultaneously reducing school property taxes by $1.4 billion. How to accomplish both? Privatization, of course. His plan, which promotes online schooling along with other educational options, may actually pave the way for the elimination of such pesky budget busters as buses, cafeterias, teachers, and, well, school facilities themselves.

Scott's transition office did not respond to inquiries from Mother Jones, but according to various news reports, Scott is cooking up an education proposal that would expand an existing voucher program designed for low-income and disabled kids, opening it to all students. The result would be that instead of public school funds filtering through the unionized public bureaucracy, it would go with the students, who could use the money to enroll in the school of their choice—public, private, charter, or virtual. If parents are wealthy enough to pay for their child's education with their own funds, they can use the voucher money for laptops or school supplies, or even sock it away in a college fund. The proposed voucher amount, about $5500, is only 85 percent of the annual cost of educating a child in Florida.

Far-right conservatives have been pushing vouchers for years as a way to dismantle public schools and fund parochial schools. But Scott's proposal may be the first to propose using vouchers as a way of also cutting taxes.

It angers me enormously that our Democrats have not gathered up the courage to fight to save our public schools.

Their efforts at "bipartisanship" are more than that....they are catering to the Billionaire Boys' Club who think they know all about education because they are so rich.

It's a sad time for education and for teachers who have devoted themselves to their kids and their careers.
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