Public School Supporters Speak Out

TALLAHASSEE-- Public school supporters are speaking out against school choice. Groups are calling on the governor to veto a voucher expansion bill while another is condemning charter schools.

Florida's legislature approved a voucher expansion bill - which gives corporate tax breaks to businesses funding scholarships - by combining it with another bill supporting special needs students. The Florida school boards association says the last minute move is taking billions from other programs. They're calling for a veto.

"Much of that money would, yes, come to Florida's public schools, but a lot of those dollars, that 2 billion dollars that does not come in, could also be used to fund children's services, transportation, department of corrections and other entities," Wayne Blanton of the Florida School Board Association said.

Step Up for Students runs the voucher program and gives out nearly 60,000 tax credit scholarships a year. We talked to Public affairs director Ron Matus by phone.

"Is this a public school versus private school battle?"
"All this program does, like other school choice options, is give parents more options to find something that works for their kids," Matus said.

The League of Women voters also stepped out against school choice, releasing a scathing report on charter schools.

The year long study blasted charter schools for having ties to for profit companies and mismanaging funds. The league says there are no outstanding differences in achievement between charter and traditional public schools.

"Why are we really spending so much money on charter schools when we're not really seeing any significant improvements," Jessica Lowe Minor said.

The state's biggest teacher's union has also called on the governor to veto the voucher expansion bill.

Next year's scholarship program is expected to grow to 68,000 students. The Governor is expected to sign the voucher expansion bill.