Florida PTA Lawsuit Charges School Voucher Programs Are Unconstitutional

Florida PTA Lawsuit Charges School Voucher Programs Are Unconstitutional The Florida PTA just joined a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (commonly referred to as “vouchers”). Other parties to the lawsuit are the Florida Education Association, The Florida School Boards Association, the Florida Association of School Administrators and other advocacy groups. Why?

The Florida Tax Credit Program violates our constitutional mandate of a system of free public schools as the means to educate Florida children. Also, there is a constitutional prohibition against using public funds to aid sectarian (religious) institutions. Projections indicate that the Florida Tax Credit Program could take nearly $900 million from public schools in the next 4 years.

A common misconception is that vouchers are for parents to remove children from failing (D and F) schools. In fact, eligibility is instead based on family income: up to 260% of the Federal Poverty Level, or $62,000 for a family of four. This is above the median household income in Miami-Dade County, so a majority of area families are eligible to use taxpayer funds for private schools. Only 12% of new students using vouchers in 2012-13 were from D or F rated schools. Over one third of voucher applicants that year were from “A” schools!

Florida voters overwhelming rejected an recent proposed Amendment called “Religious Freedom” that would have opened the door to allocated taxpayer dollars to private/parochial schools. Separation of church and state remains intact in Florida’s Constitution., yet:

  • 70% of private schools participating in the voucher program are sectarian
  • 80% of parents using vouchers choose sectarian schools.
  • These private schools are not subject to the same accountability standards for curriculum and achievement as public schools.

Please note that the lawsuit does NOT challenge the constitutionality of McKay Scholarships for special needs students.

Does Your Representative Support Vouchers? Know how your vote Nov. 4 can affect your child’s school. Incumbent state representatives from both District #114 and #11 (most MPSH families) are up for re-election. Do you know your representative’s voting record on expansion of voucher programs and other education issues?

If not, click here for District #114 (Erik Fresen)’s legislative initiatives on education, or click here for District #115 (Michael Bileca).

Don’t know who is your current Florida Representative? Simply input your address and city on the MyFloridaHouse website and submit your address.