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Former GOP State Senator: “Those pushing vouchers are not being honest with us”

March 15, 2019

Former Senator Paula Dockery, Editorial Boards, and School Board Members Slam Republicans’ Unconstitutional Voucher Scheme

Florida Republicans' unconstitutional voucher scheme is drawing condemnation from school board members, columnists, editorial boards — and former Republican State Senator Paula Dockery. In a devastating column, Dockery wrote that “those pushing vouchers are not being honest with us” and that the GOP plan may “do away with public schools through total privatization for profit and control.”

Dockery’s powerful column isn’t the only critique of the GOP voucher scheme. As both The Sun Sentinel and TC Palm Editorial Boards wrote this week, Republicans are pushing an expansion of vouchers at a time when unregulated, unaccountable private schools have been caught up in a series of massive scandals. As the Sentinel noted, “the state government’s indifference to proper oversight of schools run by for-profit managers is reprehensible.”

Read the coverage here:

Sun Sentinel: Paula Dockery: What’s the end game with school vouchers?

“Does the state have so much money that it can fully fund our public education system, meet our other needs and then throw some money at those wanting to send their children to private schools using tax dollars? The answer is no.”

Sun Sentinel Editorial Board: Charter school companies feast at the public trough.

“For legislators to be earmarking money to charters of their choice is worrisome even with the best intentions. The state government’s indifference to proper oversight of schools run by for-profit managers is reprehensible.”

“During a charter school visit last month, Gov. DeSantis said he wanted to do something about “bad actors” in the industry, but he has yet to say what that would be. However “bad actors” might be defined, the root of the problem is larger. It’s the very existence of the for-profit sector. Charter schools should be non-profit in all respects, not just on paper.”

TC Palm Editorial: Will school choice lead to more Barnabas Christian academies?

The problem with the “competition” between traditional public schools and private/charter schools is the playing field is inherently uneven. Charter schools, for example, don’t have to accept all students; they don’t have to provide transportation. They have more freedom to design “innovative” curriculum; they’re exempt from some of the building codes that traditional public schools must meet.

Private schools have even greater leeway. They can teach what they want. Textbooks do not have to be approved; private school teachers do not have to be certified. The schools don't need to be accredited and don’t have to give students the same standardized tests as public schools — though if they accept state-backed scholarships, they must administer a standardized test of their choosing.

The Gainesville Sun: Eileen Roy: Florida diverting funding to unregulated private schools

“The Florida Legislature is so eager to privatize public education that it has not established regulations that would prohibit abuses. Taxpayer money is thus diverted from public schools governed by strict regulations to those which have almost none.”

March 15, 2019 For Immediate Release Contact: Kevin Donohoe

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