In August 2014, the FEA and its allies filed two lawsuits challenging TTCS:
- The first suit claimed that the scholarship violates the "no aid" and the "uniform public schools" clauses of the Florida Constitution. How so? The scholarship allows students to pay tuition at private schools, some of which are religiously affiliated.
- The second lawsuit argued that the expansion of the scholarship program by lawmakers in June 2014 violated legislative procedure. How so? The expansion didn't pass as a standalone measure; instead, the legislation included a variety of education-related topics and, worse yet, one of which was Florida’s first education savings account program. In September 2014, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Charles Francis dismissed this lawsuit finding that the unions did not have standing to challenge the law.
The union bosses might have been down, but they aren't out. They continue to attack the TTCS option by opposing parents of scholarship students' motion to intervene and the state’s motion to dismiss.
But, Leon County Circuit Court Judge George S. Reynolds III would have none of this. Last week, Judge Reynolds granted the parents of the economically disadvantaged children served by TTCS the right to intervene on behalf of their children's scholarships, which are awarded through the corporate tuition tax credit scholarship program. To wit:
- Over the past 13 years, TTCS has made it possible for ~400k Florida students to attend the school of choice.
- In 2013, businesses contributed $357.8M to non-profit groups providing scholarships to ~68.8k children to attend a private school of choice.
- Eligible children are from households with incomes of no more that 185% of the federal poverty During the 2016-2017 school year, the expanded TTCS will allow children of families at 260% of the federal poverty line (that's $62k+ for a household of 4) to be eligible for partial scholarships.
- According to Step Up for Students, the non-profit administering the scholarships, 54% of TTCS students are from single-parent households having an average household income of $24k+.
The beauty of TTCS is that private corporate donations—not public funds—fund the scholarships. In turn, those corporations receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to non-profits that administer the scholarship. Yes, it is a round-about way to fund school choice, but it is legal.
With the evidence mounting that these students are achieving better in their schools of choice, one wonders if the union bosses and their allies are interested primarily in providing youth—and low-income youth, in particular--the best education possible?
The answer, evidenced in their all-out efforts to stop TTCS from succeeding, is a resounding "No!"
Shame on them.
Let the discussion begin....