The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has release the 2013 edition of “The ABCs of School Choice“. The report shows the strength and weaknesses of school choice in Florida.
According to the Foundation website , “Florida has two private school choice programs (special-needs vouchers, limited tax-credit scholarships). The state also has a charter school law and enables public virtual schooling. Limited open enrollment exists, both for intradistrict and interdistrict public school choice. ”
The Foundation notes:
“The status of school choice in Florida is unclear. Unfortunately, in an unprecedented decision, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the state’s groundbreaking Opportunity Scholarships voucher program for children in chronically failing public schools. The court declared that the program violated the state Constitution’s education article, specifically the requirement to provide a “uniform” public education. Contrary to state supreme courts in Wisconsin and Ohio, the Florida court decided that the Legislature may not provide educational options beyond those in the public schools. Still, the court limited its decision to Opportunity Scholarships only, leaving untouched Florida’s other school choice programs.
Earlier in the same case, a Florida appellate court struck down Opportunity Scholarships under the state’s Blaine Amendment. That ruling ran counter to years of Florida Supreme Court rulings on the Blaine Amendment permitting “incidental” benefits to religious organizations as the by-product of programs designed to advance the general welfare. The Florida Supreme Court did not review that issue, and the validity of the appellate court’s holding is unclear under Florida law.” [My emphasis]
A constitutional amendment was on the November 2012 ballot to eliminate the Blaine Amendment but it failed to garner the votes to pass. Unions and even some TEA Party activists were against the amendment.
Florida’s two educational choice success stories are:
Enacted 2001 • Launched 2001
Florida provides a tax credit on corporate income taxes and insurance premium taxes for donations to Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships for low-income students and foster care children and… Read More
Enacted as a Pilot Program 1999 • Expanded 2000
Florida’s John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program allows public school students with disabilities or 504 plans to receive vouchers to attend private schools or another public school. Read More
Despite the uncertainties surrounding vouchers, tax credit programs are completely consistent with the Florida constitution, even as interpreted by Holmes, because they involve private rather than public funds. –Quote from the Institute for Justice (April 2007)