Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sen. Marco Rubio: Feds should end Bright Futures investigation

TALLAHASSEE — Sen. Marco Rubio is asking the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to end its inquiry into Florida's Bright Futures scholarship program.

The office is investigating claims that the eligibility criteria have the effect of discriminating against black and Hispanic students.

But Rubio, in a letter Friday to Assistant Secretary Catherine Lhamon, said the federal government had "no legitimate legal basis for investigating such a program."

"Further, forcing bureaucratic changes in the parameters of eligibility for this scholarship would not only degrade the fundamental purpose of this scholarship, but also render the program financially unstable," Rubio said.

The education department was reviewing the letter, press secretary Dorie Nolt said.

Most Bright Futures scholarships are valued at about $2,300 a year for a full-time student. Top students can receive about $3,100.

The program has long shouldered criticism for awarding an outsized share of scholarships to white and affluent students. The allegations prompted the federal investigation more than a decade ago.

The investigation appeared to be dormant — until state lawmakers raised the eligibility criteria for winning a scholarship during the 2011 session.

The University of South Florida responded with an analysis showing that the new Bright Futures standards would benefit half as many students. They predicted the number of Hispanic scholarship recipients would drop by 60 percent, while the number of black scholarship recipients would drop by more than 75 percent.

Democratic lawmakers floated proposals to maintain the old standards in 2013 and 2014. Both efforts failed.

In his letter, Rubio implored the federal education officials not to change the eligibility criteria.

He noted that the Bright Futures program was designed "to assist Florida's most promising students based solely on merit."

"To the credit of the students of Florida, the standards and achievement levels have risen across the entire state, and the number of students eligible for the program has also increased," Rubio said. "While I am proud of the strides Florida's students have made, the logical conclusion is that the standards of the program must rise with the achievements of our students."

Rubio also said changing the eligibility requirements would make the program financially insolvent.

Sen. Marco Rubio: Feds should end Bright Futures investigation 05/16/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2014 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The Florida Gators' case for QB Luke Del Rio

    College

    GAINESVILLE — It took three years and two transfers for Florida's Luke Del Rio to become a starting quarterback.

    Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio (14) warms up next to quarterback Austin Appleby (12) before the game against the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday September 17, 2016 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Final score was Florida 32 North Texas 0. (Monica Herndon, Times)
  2. Joe Henderson: Let's ask Speaker Richard Corcoran to spend some time in a sweltering classroom

    Columns

    You've seen and heard the stories about how air-conditioning breakdowns created sweltering conditions in many Hillsborough County public schools. It is a sweaty, stinking, ongoing mess, and there is no quick fix.

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, has been shifting money from public schools to charter schools. It could go to help cool sweltering classrooms, instead. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Guest column: Julian Craft worked a lifetime to help those down and out in Brandon

    Columns

    Julian Craft died June 28. He was 84. In this memoriam, Brandon attorney B. Lee Elam, a friend and colleague, recalls Craft as a man with humble beginnings who spent much of his life offering a hand-up to individuals and groups across Brandon who desperately needed it. Craft's family asked that donations in his honor …

    JulianCraft knew how circumstances could put a family in dire straits so he  worked to help address the immediate needs of Brandonites before other aid kicked in. [ERNEST HOOPER   |   Times, 2005]
  4. Updates to Clearwater's development rules brings skeptical response to sea level rise from vice mayor

    Blogs

    During a discussion this week about updates to Clearwater's development rules dealing with sea level rise, Vice Mayor Hoyt Hamilton took a skeptical stance.

  5. Brandon motorcyclist dies after car turns into his path

    Accidents

    A motorcyclist died Thursday night after a car turned into his path on a Brandon road, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.