Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

So, what happens next?

What is Rick Scott's idea?

The top education advisers for the incoming governor are assembling a plan that would give the parent of every public school student a credit of roughly $5,500 — 85 percent of the state's expenditure per schoolchild — to use for their child's education. The parent could use the money to pay for public, private or virtual school in Florida, according to a draft of the idea drawn up by the Foundation for Florida Future. To be eligible, the student must have been in public school the previous year, or be the school-aged sibling of a student already in the program.

If parents pay for their child's education from some other source, they could also use this money for school equipment, like laptops and books, or tuck the money into a state-sponsored college savings program.

The state would contract with a "qualified financial institution" to administer the fund and verify appropriate spending from the account. The state would perform annual, random audits on financial institutions.

What are the legal implications of doing this?

Supporters and opponents alike say the biggest hurdle for Scott's plan is the state Constitution.

The Florida Supreme Court struck down the nation's first statewide voucher program in 2006, saying it violated a constitutional requirement for the state to create a free and uniform system of public schools.

The so-called Opportunity Scholarship Program used state money to let parents move children from struggling public schools into private schools. But the court ruled the program diverted "public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools that are the sole means set out in the Constitution for the state to provide for the education of Florida's children."

What are the cost implications?

That is still to be determined. But some critics worry the plan could either end up costing the state more money, or hurting public school funding, because it would funnel state education dollars to private school parents whose children do not cost the state anything for schooling now. There were 321,298 students enrolled in Florida private schools in 2008-09, according to the Florida Department of Education.

On the flip side, supporters say vouchers save money because the value of a voucher is lower than the cost of educating a student in public school. In a 2008 report, the Legislature's well-respected research arm said the state saved $38.9-million in the 2007-08 school year through its tax credit voucher program, which enrolled 21,493 students at the time. (Enrollment is now up to 33,000.)

Has this been tried anywhere else?

No, according to two national education researchers who are familiar with school choice and voucher programs. Both Lindsey Burke, an education policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, and Kevin Welner, a University of Colorado-Boulder education professor who directs the Education and the Public Interest Center, did not know of similar programs. There are 20 voucher programs in 12 states and Washington, D.C,, serving nearly 200,000 kids. But none approach the scale possible with the proposal surfacing in Florida.

What happens next?

Scott's education team is still working out details — they held another conference call Friday on the issue. The team is still weeks away from drafting a bill, which would need approval from both the state House and Senate.

So, what happens next? 12/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 10, 2010 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash


    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle


    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators


    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.