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Topic: Vouchers - Florida is the first state
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Vouchers - Florida is the first state
Posted: Jun 23, 1999 8:22 PM
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Daily Egyptian, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Tuesday, June
22, 1999, p. 7

Florida first to allow state-paid tuition for kids in private schools

by Mark Silva, Knight-Ridder Newpapers

Tallahassee, Fla. - With Gov. Jeb Bush's signature Monday, Florida became
the first in the nation with a statewide plan allowing state-paid tuition
for children in private schools.

Florida also becomes the newest battleground for a constitutional battle
over "tuition vouchers," a lawsuit challenging the governor's "A-Plus" plan
for education promised in Tallahassee today.

"This is the first truly statewide voucher program in the country," said
Howard Simon, director of the ACLU in South Florida, one of the many
banding to challenge the law. "Ultimately, this is going to have to be
settled by the U.S. Supreme Court."

The law, overwhelmingly approved by Florida's Republican-run Legislature,
will assign every public school a grade from A - F based on test scores and
other factors - the state promising grades by month's end.

This fall, only students in two low-scoring schools in Pensacola will
qualify for what the law calls "opportunity scholarships." By the following
fall, children in many more schools throughout the state may qualify.

"We're in for a renaissance in public education, trusting parents in a way
that has never happened in this counrty, " said Bush, signing the law at a
high-achieving Raa Middle School, where he proposed the plan in his
campaign for governor last year. As other states debate tuition vouchers -
offered for low-income children in Milwaukee's public schools for several
years - Florida becomes the first with a plan that could reach statewide
within the next year.

The law's opponents - including Florida's teachers' unions, the PTA, ACLU,
NAACP, American Jewsish Congress and People for the American Way - are
counting on another, 30-year-old provision of Florida's Constitution: "No
revenue of the state ... shall ever be taken from the public treasury
directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect or religious

"It is absurd to say that what the voters did in November is a basis for
vouchers in private and parochial schools, " said the ACLU's Simon. "It
doesn't say everybody has a right to an education anyplace in the world."

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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