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07.01.2008 0

School Choice Initiative Gains Traction in Florida

  • On: 07/16/2008 14:51:33
  • In: School Choice
  • A bill which would save Florida up to $19 million annually on education has cleared an important hurdle as it moves towards ratification:

    “[Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Niceville)] said taxpayers would save up to $19 million annually if the [school choice] program is allowed to expand. That’s because taxpayers spend about $7,200 for every public-school student while the vouchers cost only $3,750 each…The Education Pre-kindergarten-12th Grade Appropriations Committee, chaired by Gaetz, voted 4-2 for the bill (SB 1440). It must clear two more committees before reaching the Senate floor.”

    Florida’s current school choice program also is funded by the private sector:

    “[The program] is supported by donations from businesses that get dollar-for-dollar corporate income-tax credits. The [new] bill would let businesses donate more, and the program would expand during five years starting in 2009 from $88 million to $250 million annually. It would increase the current 20,000 participants to about 55,000 in the fifth year.”

    Predictably, Florida’s teachers union is against the legislation:

    “Critics, including the statewide teachers union, disputed [the claim that the measure would save the state millions of dollars because sending a child to a private school is cheaper than to a public school], arguing that every dollar spent on private schools is one lost by public schools.”

    However, with part of the funding coming from the private sector, the union’s claim does not withstand scrutiny. They need to update their talking points to reflect the bill actually being proposed.

    Besides, who should be surprised that the overpaid, underperforming public education establishment wants to protect the elite educrats? It should be clear that they are only looking out for their own institutional interests, and not the best interests of the students or Floridian taxpayers.

    ALG Perspective:
    Public schools are not singularly entitled to be funded by taxpayers, and the people of Florida have every right to look at more cost-effective options, including private schools. By allowing private schools to compete for tax dollars, parents in Florida are being given more of a choice. Importantly, those schools are offered a chance to prove themselves in a competitive market. That could wreck the public school monopoly that the teachers’ unions feel entitled to. The success of school choice initiatives nationwide is exactly what these unions fear, because they run the risk of proving that a better product can be produced for less cost when the free market is allowed to operate.

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