Voucher Accountability a Myth?

TALLAHASSEE-- Florida lawmakers waited to their last day to pass a 140 page re-write of the state's school voucher program, and much of the promised accountability may not be in the legislation.

There are 60 thousand students in Florida getting corporate scholarships. That will grow to 68 thousand this fall. On the final date of the legislative session, supporters of choice passed a one hundred plus page amendment expanding who is eligible for the program.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa isn't happy. "We haven't had the opportunity and I think we should have had to read this 100 and something page amendment."

Families making $55,000 are currently eligible. The number grows in 2016. The Florida Education Association is still sorting out everything in the bill.

Joann McCall is the FEA Vice President. "I'd say it was a quick procedural maneuver in order to push through something that the general public's really not after."

On the session's final night, both legislative leaders praised the accountability in the legislation. "We've got the accountability: academic and financial," according to Senate President Don Gaetz.

But, Senator Arthenia Joyner says the accountability doesn't cover private school student performance, only how the scholarship organizations spend their money. "If the requirement for public schools are good for public schools, then they ought to be good for private schools."

Rick Scott said Friday he hadn't read the bill, but "I believe in school choice."

The legislation also removes a provision that to be eligible for vouchers, you had to have attended a public school in the previous year.

The legislation also stops the testing of students with disabilities. That became an issue after testing opponents filmed these students being tested.

Under the corporate scholarship program companies donate tax revenue they would otherwise owe the state to a scholarship organization, which transfers the money to parents.


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