Voucher Expansion Dies in Florida Senate


Miami Herald reporter Kathleen McGrory reports:

The Senate sponsor of the controversial school voucher bill withdrew his proposal Thursday, significantly weakening its chances of becoming law this year.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said he pulled the bill because there wasn’t enough time to develop accountability provisions that everybody could agree on.

“I thought it would be better if we took time and vetted it out,” Galvano said.

The House and Senate had clashed over requiring voucher recipients to take the state tests. Senate leaders, including Senate President Don Gaetz, were unwilling to pass a bill that did not include a testing requirement. But the House refused to add the language. 

There is still a slim chance that the Senate could take up the House bill.

“You can never say that the Senate won’t take up a House bill or that the House won’t take up a Senate bill,” Gaetz said Thursday. “But when the sponsor of a bill asks to have the bill withdrawn from any further consideration by the Senate, that’s an indication that the sponsor has changed his mind about the prospects of the bill.”

Galvano’s assertion that “there wasn’t enough time to develop accountability provisions that everybody could agree on,” is a convenient way for voucher proponents to save face. While its clear that the state’s key voucherists didn’t want voucher kids to take the same tests as public school kids, significant – and troubling – revelations began to emerge about the state’s top voucher administrator, John Kirtley’s Step Up for Students.

McGrory’s broke the story about the existence of a You Tube video of Step Up for Students CEO bragging about SUFS’s political rise:

Meanwhile, the non-profit that runs the voucher program came under fire Tuesday for a 2011 video that was posted to YouTube.

In the video, Step Up for Students President Doug Tuthill outlined the organization’s political strategy. He talked about the role of an affiliated political committee.

“One of the primary reasons we’ve been so successful we spend about $1 million every other cycle in local political races, which in Florida is a lot of money,” Tuthill told a group at the University of California, Berkeley. “In House races and Senate races, we’re probably the biggest spender in local races.”

Tuthill said he and other proponents “make low-income families the face of the program.”

“We put those people in the face of Democrats and say ‘How can you deny this parent the right to educate their child in the ways that they need?'” he said.

Tuthill also acknowledged that the program had built up support among black ministers. “The black ministers have really flipped the politicians. That has really brought most of the black and Hispanic politicians over to the program.”

Most politicians don’t like it when a hack like Tuthill boasts that they’ve been bought and played.  Especially when those pols are sending more taxpayer money into an entity controlled by him.

Sources have told Scathing Purple Musings that Tuthill was running around the Senate yesterday whining that a “well-orchestrated attack” had defeated his bill. Perhaps that’s what happens when people start reading what’s actually in the bill and start taking closer looks at the way your organization operates.

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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