Writing in the Gainesville Sun, Alachua County School Board member Eileen Roy points to the numerous contradictions that school vouchers and their legislative enablers cannot resolve:
These schools have little to no accountability and are not required to have certified teachers. As a taxpayer, I do not want my money diverted away from public schools. If parents want their children to attend a private school and pay for it, that is laudable. But taxpayers should not be paying for religious education and bad science.
It is an irony that the mantra in Tallahassee is that we want our students to be educated in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) courses and to be prepared to compete in the global economy. Teaching children that science is corrupt is no way to equip them for the modern world and will cause them and society future harm.
All religious schools are not of this ilk, of course. But voucher programs for private schools are sometimes attractive to parents precisely because they are free of the innumerable unfunded mandates and endless testing inflicted on public schools.
Private school vouchers defy the Florida Constitution, which states that it is the state’s paramount duty to have a uniform system of high quality, free public schools. Corporate tax vouchers create a dual system that is profoundly unfair and dangerous
Florida’s republican legislators cannot dodge hypocrisy charges. Especially with so many angles to pursue:
Thought you were all about STEM education and careers: Check.
Thought you were about assuring Florida kids have a “great teacher” in the classroom: Check.
Thought you were all about insisting that Common Core Standards are essential to enabling our kids to “compete in a global economy.” Check.
Thought you were all about accountability: Check.
These conflicts aren’t lost on some senate republicans, and it may explain the push-back voucher expansion its receiving. But whether or not the unpopular program – a recent Sunshine State News poll revealed Floridians oppose vouchers by a wide margin – the state’s republicans run the risk of being easily broad-brushed as double-dealers when it comes to education policy.
They can’t have it both ways intellectually, but their massive majorities in both legislative bodies assures that they can politically.
Education policy is the long game. Floridians will lose when the adults in the republican senate caucus leave because of term limits. An education privatization zealot in Andy Gardiner takes over as Senate President when Don Gaetz leaves after this year. The drip, drip, drip of revelations which continue to discredit Florida’s voucher program may be the only thing standing in the way of the republican agenda to crush the state’s public school system.