Carrie Meek: Vouchers a good option
Support for public schools and support for private-school vouchers are not mutually exclusive, former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, a longtime voucher opponent, told the Gradebook this afternoon. Meek's comments came in response to news that her foundation is offering tax-credit vouchers to poor kids in Miami. "Yes, I was an opponent of vouchers," Meek, 81, said when reached by phone at home. But "I was an opponent because I thought they were taking away from public schools … The way I see it now, they are not taking away."
Given Meek's longtime opposition to vouchers – and her status as a legend in the black community - some voucher opponents did a double-take when the the Gradebook reported that the Department of Education had authorized her foundation to offer them. But Meek said while she has "tweaked" her position on vouchers, she remains a steadfast supporter of public schools and of increased educational opportunities for the poor. "I spent a great part of my life trying to strengthen minority children and minority families," she said. "To get a scholarship like this would be very helpful to some of these children."
The response from voucher opponents? Vouchers are "always a bad idea," no matter who supports them, said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association, the state teachers union. "You’re setting up a parallel system, and you're devoting your time and your attention and your money … to these alternative programs. Meanwhile, we’re looking at budget cuts for public schools."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter