Vouchers for everyone? | Dec. 10
Scott takes 'public' out of education
Rick Scott just wants to give a check for my tax dollars to parents to pay tuition for their kids to go wherever they choose? Why stop there? Let's extend this idea to its ultimately inane conclusion. Do only licensed drivers get a gas tax check to allocate to whichever road they want repaired? May hotel guests allocate their percentage of the tourist tax to their favorite beach?
A tax levied on an entire population should not be divvied up and handed to any unique group to freely spend as they choose. Especially one that will disproportionately give more money to parents in counties where less is collected.
A local community, if defined by public school boundaries, has a vested interest in the quality and success of those schools in their neighborhood — even if the majority of people living in that neighborhood have no children of their own. Taking the dollars spent on the public school system and placing the control of it in the hands of a small group with narrow self-interests make neither good, nor ethical public policy. If you place my tax dollars in the hands of another citizen, you remove my voice from any public discussion concerning those schools.
Dan Rapp, Tampa
Vouchers for everyone? | Dec. 10
Melting pot at risk
Mr. Scott's attack on the public school system is a much greater threat to the future of our state than terrorism, unemployment and hurricanes combined. America is a melting pot where many cultures are combined to form a mosaic. The public school system is the most essential element of that pot.
It's the great equalizer, the place that brings the children of these cultures together and unites them into a common experience. Are we so concerned whether Johnnie gets into Yale, or whether Mary reads at eighth-grade level rather than a 10th-grade level, that we forget the bigger picture? It is the experience of growing up together through the public school systems that molds us into a united people more than any social code or document. Dismantling the public school system is tantamount to taking a sledgehammer to the foundation of your house. Eventually, the house will collapse, as will our society.
Phillip Marmanillo, Safety Harbor
Charter school boondoggle
I just got done reading about Rick Scott's proposal to put Florida's voucher program on steroids and got a great idea. Now's the time to get into the charter school business! All you'll need to do is find some cheap office space somewhere for your school. Then hire family members at exorbitant salaries as your "teachers," and you're in business.
You'll be able to rip the government off for millions of dollars. Just like Rick Scott did! Only this time you'll be able to do it legally, thanks to Rick! Once you get rolling, you'll be able to add more locations and eventually develop a chain of these things. Just like Rick Scott did! So who cares that public education is the big loser?
Jeffrey Ulrich, Palm Harbor
Money drives proposal
It should come as no surprise that Rick Scott and other Republican leaders are systematically attempting to dismantle public education. There's a lot of profit to be made by dismantling public education.
Vouchers for all will create opportunities for selected entrepreneurs and shareholders to get their hands on education tax dollars.
Increased testing operates on the same principle.
Those selected entrepreneurs will have the capital to make large political contributions.
Rich parents who have their kids in private schools will get a special bonus.
Merit pay will save money because only some teachers will get raises.
The elimination of tenure means experienced teachers can be fired without a reason. For each fired experienced teacher, two inexperienced teachers can be retained. Everyone knows that when fixing a car, fixing a roof or selecting a doctor for heart surgery, inexperienced people always do a better job than experienced people.
The only losers are the kids, but Scott and the Tallahassee Republicans understand that kids can't vote.
Martin Peters, Tarpon Springs
Scheme won't work
I am a teacher in a public high school. I would like to make a few points concerning the governor-elect's education plan.
1. Using public tax dollars to support private schools violates one of the basic principles of our Constitution, separation of church and state. How are Florida taxpayers going to feel knowing their money is sending a child to study in a school that emphasizes strict fundamental principles of a particular religion?
2. You can try all the plans you want. Bring in Michelle Rhee, pay teachers differently, install more accountability measures on the schools. However, I can tell you it won't work. The children must be willing to do what it takes to educate themselves.
3. Why do we keep blaming the schools for the failure of the students? Do we blame doctors when their obese patients continue to eat excessively and not exercise, then die? Do we blame the accountant when his client doesn't keep accurate records, receipts or bank statements?
Please don't misinterpret my intentions. I realize there are people in education who should not be. If they are not doing their job, fire them.
However, you cannot continue to condemn an entire system because of the actions of a minority.
Joel Melvin, Clearwater
Fix public schools
Apparently, Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott believes that students should attend the schools of their parents' choice at the public expense. An education overhaul should proactively engage in revamping our current public school system and get the schools and teachers into shape — tenure or not.
If parents choose to send their kids to private schools, including those which are religion-based, the money should come out of their pockets — not mine and other taxpaying citizens. Helping to fund religion-based schools and/or programs crosses the line between church and state.
If Scott is so hellbent on letting parents direct state funds, my suggestion is that Scott use his own funds instead. Remember, it was Scott's own money ($73 million) that got him elected. So let Scott put his money where his mouth is and let's see how far he gets.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
A political approach to reforming schools Dec. 10
Your anti-voucher editorial missed what I consider the Republicans' true motives for pushing vouchers: (1) Break the teachers union.
(2) Upper class benefits the most. Those who can now afford private schooling will no longer be required to contribute to public schools and, in fact, will get a $6,300 tax cut on top of the 19 percent property tax cut and corporate tax elimination.
(3) Control. Legislators will control the schools, not educators.
As a taxpaying citizen who has no school age children, why do I care? The bone we are given is a school property tax cut of 19 percent. Great, on the surface. Look a little closer and individuals like myself will be financing private schools with little/or no oversight and dismantling public schools in the process.
Jay Yardley, St. Petersburg