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Author Topic: Fla. Voucher Law Ruled Unconstitutional - No public money for religious schools  (Read 3460 times)

jgruber

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I'm of two minds on this issue.  Wudya think? 

There's a link at the bottom for this full story and the court's opinion

Fla. Voucher Law Ruled Unconstitutional
Court Rules Against Fla. Law Allowing Some Students to Attend Private School at Taxpayer Expense

The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Aug. 16, 2004 A Florida law that allows students at failing public schools to attend private schools at taxpayers' expense is unconstitutional, a state appeals court ruled Monday.

The decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal upholds a ruling by a trial judge saying the state constitution forbids the use of tax money to send youngsters to religious schools.


http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20040816_571.html

http://www.1dca.org/opinion/opinions2004/8-16-04/02-3160.pdf

Section Eight

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I don't know perhaps this is the natural conservative in me -- Why don't they use the money they were using on tuition for the Religious based schools to restructure and rebuild the failing schools?

Edit - I did not read the article or the court's ruling perhaps they answered my question within.

jgruber

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I agree.  Instead of abandoning public schools, let's rebuild them.  In the 60's & 70's we had great public schools and it can happen again.  It takes the will and the resources.  That seems to be lacking in spite of the rhetoric.  Flamers!  I assign the blame for this across the political spectrum.

Freak

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There are two sides and since one position has been laid out I'll take the other.

1.  Spending resources to improve public schools will not help current students.

2.  Private schools graduate higher achieving students while in many cases spending less per student.  (e.g. Christian Life High School spends ~$3000/yr/student vs. $4000+ spent on public students in the same district which performs poorly).

3.   Private schools compete for students and thus have a great motivation ($$$$) to achieve high standards, while public schools have sentiment and only in rare cases $$$.

4.   I have yet to hear of private teachers going on strike and thus disrupting students.

5.   Private schools have a better record of improving poorly performing students (though they do have the option of kicking them out altogether which serves as a motivator; but then if you don't want to learn it's a privilege anyway) and not allowing them to become poor students in the first place
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Bman

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I think, from a public policy standpoint, vouchers are a tough issue. I ultimately support them because I don't think they really hurt the public schools (the price of a voucher that would cover tuition for public school is considerably less, generally speaking, than the cost per pupil that the state pays for public education) and I don't see any short term solution for improving the public schools. More money is clearly not the answer. The government spends an astronomical amount of money in DC, New York and other cities' public school systems (inflation adjusted spending doubles about every twenty years) and they just get worse and worse.

But, I've always thought the constitutional claim was a bit of a red herring. It fits in with the attempts of (many, not all, so don't accuse me of stereotyping) liberals who use the constitution to bar an activity that they simply don't agree with. Pell Grants, G.I. bill services and many other things work in the exact same way as vouchers- the government allocates benefits neutrally and they wind up in religious schools based on the individual choices of people. Maybe the Florida constitution was written differently but this strikes me as a very bad decision. I've done some research on this and it seems undeniable to me that the threat of vouchers for failing schools was a major impetus for the improvement shown by the public schools in Florida in the late 1990s.

dgatl

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I didn't graduate from HS in Florida but since I was there for undergrad, most of my friends were florida kids.  Schools in Florida are in sad shape.  I'm glad the voucher law was deemed unconstitutional because the money is really needed to energize the at-risk schools.  The obvious problem spots are Miami, Orlando, Jax, and Tampa.  All of my friends from Miami and Tampa attended catholic school or jewish school.  Jax has a great IB magnet program but some of the kids I knew that went there were glad they made it out alive.

I'm glad that Jeb's initiative was struck down.  Now, if only they take proactive measures to make sure that the money is put to good use, then perhaps the public school system can be revamped.

alannauf

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I didn't graduate from HS in Florida but since I was there for undergrad, most of my friends were florida kids.  Schools in Florida are in sad shape.  I'm glad the voucher law was deemed unconstitutional because the money is really needed to energize the at-risk schools.  The obvious problem spots are Miami, Orlando, Jax, and Tampa.  All of my friends from Miami and Tampa attended catholic school or jewish school.  Jax has a great IB magnet program but some of the kids I knew that went there were glad they made it out alive.

I'm glad that Jeb's initiative was struck down.  Now, if only they take proactive measures to make sure that the money is put to good use, then perhaps the public school system can be revamped.

I did go to public school in Florida and went to a magnet arts school for high school. While you are right that the money would probably be better spent on helping the failing schools, as I think someone else may have mentioned, that won't help any of the current students. That kind of process could take years to fix. From what I recall about the voucher program it is based on the grade given to the school by the state, which is based on that school's fcat (florida comprehensive accessment test) scores (I think). I don't even think is has anything to do with the school's facilities or anything of that nature. It could be a school in a great area of Florida, but one with teachers who just aren't dedicated enough to keep scores up (which happens more often than you might think).

jgruber

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How do vouchers fit into the longer term goal of improving the public school system?

There are two sides and since one position has been laid out I'll take the other.

1.  Spending resources to improve public schools will not help current students.

2.  Private schools graduate higher achieving students while in many cases spending less per student.  (e.g. Christian Life High School spends ~$3000/yr/student vs. $4000+ spent on public students in the same district which performs poorly).

3.   Private schools compete for students and thus have a great motivation ($$$$) to achieve high standards, while public schools have sentiment and only in rare cases $$$.

4.   I have yet to hear of private teachers going on strike and thus disrupting students.

5.   Private schools have a better record of improving poorly performing students (though they do have the option of kicking them out altogether which serves as a motivator; but then if you don't want to learn it's a privilege anyway) and not allowing them to become poor students in the first place
.



Bman

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I don't see how vouchers can plausibly be said to take money away from public schools. Most vouchers are spent on catholic schools and urban Catholic schools generally have tuitions that are only a fraction of the per student expenditures spent on public schools. In Washington, D.C., Republicans (along with most of the city's black leaders) wanted a thirteen million dollar pilot program that would serve just a small number of students, to test the feasilibity of the idea. The thirteen million dollars (a statistically tiny amount any way) would be offset by adding thirteen million dollars to the public school budget. And  yet the Democrats, virtually unanimously, still opposed it.

Vouchers worked in Florida in the late 1990s by forcing some of the worst schools to restructure. Jeb Bush helped pass a law that would have withheld money from schools that failed on several key measures two years in a row. In the first year, 78 schools, totalling more than 150,000 students failed. the next year, all 78 schools managed to correct the problems well enough to avoid a second year of failure. Ultimiately, expecting public schools to radically reorganize without some form of competition is simply a pipe dream.

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