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. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  2. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  3. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale

    Corporate

    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.

    Weinstein
  4. Trial begins in 2014 death of 19-month-old Tampa girl

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Even before his trial officially began, Deandre Gilmore had planted his gaze on the floor of Judge Samantha Ward's courtroom Monday, taking a deep breath and shifting in his seat as a pool of 60 potential jurors learned of his charges.

    Gilmore
  5. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe

    College

    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]