Changes in the Florida Voucher School Program
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Student Life

Florida's Governor Upgrades The Voucher School Funds

Many of the statistics show these programs are working and the number of students enrolled has excelled compared to the students enrolled in public schools.

Florida's Governor Upgrades The Voucher School Funds

I recently read an article in the Orlando Sentinel regarding the Florida Senate supporting Governor DeSantis' proposal to increase scholarships for school vouchers. The new Governor has been shaking up the political structure of Florida starting his very first day and this proposal to increase funding for the school voucher program cuts like a double edge sword.

DeSantis' goal to reverse last-minute appointees of former Governor Rick Scott is a step in the right direction. However, it seems his need to fund private schools has many concerned and most confused. Private and charter schools have been a growing business in the State of Florida for the last decade. The disappointing repercussions of this industry are the lack of funding for public schools as well as the lack of accountability for the private schools.

The Florida voucher program allows students from low-income or failing schools to attend a private or charter school of their parent's choice that is paid by one of Florida's four scholarship programs. Many of the statistics show these programs are working and the number of students enrolled has excelled compared to the students enrolled in public schools.

Out of the 203 private schools in Orange County, Florida, 151 of them are faith-based. 84 are Non-Denominational, the remainder is as follows: 14 Baptist as well as 14 Assembly of God schools. 10 Catholic schools, 6 Pentecostal and 5 Seventh Day Adventist schools. 4 Lutheran and 4 Church of God schools, 3 Jewish schools and 3 Islamic/Muslim schools. Presbyterian and Episcopalian have 2 schools each. In addition, there are 41 charter schools in Orange County that are not permitted to teach religion like public schools.

Many believe the government funding of children attending a religious school is a violation of church and state. However, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a state-enacted voucher program did not violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on government establishment of religion. In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the court found that the voucher program was constitutional because it served a valid secular purpose and it was neutral to religion, which means, the parent chooses the school, not the state.

While former Governor Jeb Bush praised the new Governor for his choice to increase the budget and lead the future of Floridians. Some education groups have a different view on Governor DeSantis' proposal. According to an article in the Jacksonville Journal, l."The Florida Education Association, (FEA) states the voucher program rejects students based on economic and academic status and in some cases with the new bullying option immigration and sexual or gender status."

One of the most controversial proponents to the voucher program is the Hope Scholarship. This scholarship was created to help students who claim they have been bullied in public schools. The scholarship is being paid by residents that buy a new car and opt to donate $105 of the state taxes to the scholarship. In the first month, the scholarship raised about $4 million. Sadly, the bureaucracy of the paperwork involved in obtaining this scholarship has left the funds to possibly be reallocated to other programs. As a workaround, the program Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran proposed to allow a student to file for this scholarship without any report of an incident of bullying. And for anybody who lives in Florida would understand, the legislature in Florida cannot keep their hand off idle funds.

The main concern most people have with private schools is their accountability. For every hurdle public schools are required to meet private schools get a pass. Their curriculum is not mandated by the state, their school days and hours are not a requirement. Their pass/fail levels are established on as needed basis. And because these school programs are new and change so frequently the statistics will never be complete or an accurate account of the progress. Even though some statistics show an increase in voucher students graduating and attending college, could those same motivated students accomplish this goal if their public school had all the resources of a private school?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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