The well-compensated executives of Step Up For Students, the administrators of Florida’s voucher program, are rooting for Florida republican governor Rick Scott to re-elected. Their propaganda arm, the website redefinED, never stops churning out warm and fuzzy pieces intended to reaffirm their own benevolence. Consider this one from SUFS Policy and Communications director Jon East which addresses the average low household income of voucher recipients. East writes that it has fallen slightly from last year and over $2000 since the 2009-2010 school year.
As of Monday, the scholarship was serving 68,768 students in 1,510 private schools across the state — an increase of roughly 9,000 students from last year. The average household income was $24,067 and the average household size was 3.8. Program officials are not sure what explains the drop. It may be tied generally to the economy, as the jobless rate still suffers and wages have stagnated for those at the lower end of the income scale. It could be that public school students who are at the lower end of the income threshold for free or reduced-price lunch are more inclined to seek the scholarship option. The threshold for the school lunch program, which is also the eligibility level for new scholarship students this year, is 185 percent of poverty or $44,122 for a household of four.
Embolden emphasis mine.
The talking points that Rick Scott’s handlers have advanced focus of his stewardship of the economy, with particular emphasis on job growth. Charlie Crist’s governorship was supposed to have been a disaster for the economy. Yet SUFS’s numbers indicate that demographic whom should be doing better with Scott as governor are actually doing worse. The poor are getting poorer. The average household income of voucher recipients listed in SUFS’ data is in the 2009-2010 school year when Crist was still governor.
East’s likely intention was to point out that low-income families are indeed successfully securing vouchers. This is a good thing. But East unwittingly admits that the guy he needs to stay in the governor’s mansion has done nothing to improve the lives of lower-income families.
Moreover, East understands the danger that Crist as governor poses for SUFS who has promised to even the playing field for public schools. Crist proposes that Florida businesses receive the same tax credit for “investing in Florida public schools.” For an organization like East’s noted for always asking “why anyone would be against a program which helped poor kids,” Crist’s proposal puts the shoe on the other foot. Why would the executives at SUFS be against giving Florida businesses a “choice” in which schools they invest and receive the same tax credit?