Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Public school advocates fear Scott's voucher-like proposal

Traditional public school advocates shuddered Friday morning at news that Florida's incoming governor was considering a voucher-like program that would be available to all students.

Called "education savings accounts," the proposal would allow state education dollars to follow students to the schools their parents choose, whether public or private. Although there are few details, such a program could dwarf the state's existing voucher programs, which are limited to either low-income or disabled students.

"An awful idea," said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the state teachers union.

"There goes public education," said Pinellas school board member Janet Clark.

"There had been talk of expansion of the (voucher) program," said state Rep. Kriseman, R-St. Petersburg. "But that's not an expansion. That's a takeover."

"If what the (incoming) governor wants to happen occurs," Kriseman continued, "public education as we know it ceases to exist."

Gov.-elect Rick Scott told about 900 voucher students in St. Petersburg Thursday that he wanted to "give every child in the state every opportunity that you've had, to make sure that you go to whatever school you want to." In a interview later with the St. Petersburg Times, he said he wants a program that allows parents to use state education dollars at the school of their choice.

Key lawmakers and the Foundation for Florida's Future, an influential think tank founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush, are also talking about the idea. And Scott said he expected the Legislature to consider such a plan when the next legislative session begins in March.

Florida has offered private-school vouchers since 1999, and they've always been controversial. But they've also been limited. One program serves about 21,000 disabled students. The other serves about 33,000 low-income kids.

To essentially offer vouchers to all families "would be disastrous," said Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough teachers union.

One reason: The cost of paying for several hundred thousand students who are now in private schools.

"If suddenly all the children who are in private school are now going to have the citizens, the taxpayers, of Florida paying for that private school, or at least a good portion of it, that's money that's going to come straight out of the public school budget," Clements said. "And public schools that are already strapped are going to be seriously hurting."

"I think it's laudable that (Scott) wants to do something and wants to do it differently," she continued. "But I really hope and pray that he will spend some serious time and deliberation with those of us who know public education inside and out."

Ron Matus can be reached at matus@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8873.

Public school advocates fear Scott's voucher-like proposal 12/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 10, 2010 11:49am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]