The cleverly-conceived plan provides tax credits to donors who make charitable contributions to fund private school scholarships. To qualify for the scholarships, students must receive subsidized federal lunches. Once a scholarship is granted, students can attend the schools of choice.
Some data for the 2014-2015 school year:
- Scholarships are capped at $5,272.
- 70% of scholarship recipients are minority students whose families with an average income of $25k.
- $357M in tax credits are available. This amount is equal to <2% of local and state education budgets.
- Between 2010 and 2014, the number of students receiving scholarship awards grown 300%, reaching 70k children.
Since 2001, per-pupil spending in Florida has increased 40%. In 2012, the program saved the state $58M.
The outcome? The school choice program has helped Florida's low-income students, both in public and in private schools. In fact, students in Florida's public schools have demonstrated testing gains, which may be a healthy by-product of increased competition due to the growth of the scholarship program and charter schools.
In the face of this demonstrated successs where the scholarship funds are not part of the Florida treasury--they are funded by private contributions and no money is sent to private schools to pay for the scholarships--the public school teachers' unions are calling the growth of the tax credit program "unconstitutional."
The unions have hried some very clever lawyers who maintain that Florida's constitution requires the "adequate provision" of public education. Thus, the lawyers contend that Flolrida's school districts are losing ~$7k for each student who uses a tax credit scholarship to attend a private school.
What's interesting to note, once again, is that the public school teachers' unions are not interested primarily in students but in continuing if not expanding their monopoly. They hold low-income students hostage to their failing system which only ensures those students will continue to experience difficulty moving out of poverty.
It's so very sad to see the public school teachers' unions mounting a new offensive. They have already taken upon themselves what belongs to parents by divine right...the education of their children. Now they once again seek to deny parents choice in the education of their children. That's immoral.
Let the discussion begin...
To read the Wall Street Journal article, click on the folllowing link:
"Florida's School Choice Showdown."