Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 19, 2008

Florida Dems getting it on school choice

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 1:23 pm

From today’s Wall Street Journal:

Democrats for Choice


When Florida passed a law in 2001 creating the Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program for underprivileged students, all but one Democrat in the state legislature voted against it.  Earlier this month, lawmakers extended the program – this time with the help of a full third of Democrats in the Legislature, including 13 of 25 members of the state’s black caucus and every member of the Hispanic caucus.  What changed?


Our guess is that low-income parents in Florida have gotten a taste of the same school choice privileges that middle- and upper-income families have always enjoyed.  And they’ve found they like this new educational freedom.  Under the scholarship program, which is means-tested, companies get a 100% tax credit for donations to state-approved nonprofits that provide private-school vouchers for low-income families.


The program already serves some 20,000 students.  The expansion will allow it to assist an additional 6,000.  It’s no surprise that poor families would embrace educational options, given that their government-assigned scholars are clearly failing our children.  The high school graduation rate for black students in Florida is 45% overall, 38% for black males.  The 52% graduation rate for Hispanics is also nothing to brag about.


What’s encouraging is that these parents have managed to convey their pro-choice sentiments to their representatives, who are responding even though voucher programs infuriate powerful liberal special interest groups like the teachers unions. Given that 70% of the program participants are black or Hispanic, you’d think Democrats would be taking the lead on a measure that mostly benefits their traditional constituency.  Apparently they needed a little prodding, but we’re glad to see they did the right thing.




  1. I could live with means tested school choice program. At least this way the people claiming choice hurts poor families wouldn’t have an argument. I’m confident that once one group of parents get to choose, the benefits will be so obvious that politicians will have to offer it to everyone. Besides, public schools improve when they have to compete.

    Comment by Real Question — May 19, 2008 @ 1:40 pm | Reply

  2. I’m still waiting to hear of an instance when letting parents choose schools hasn’t produced improvements in educational outcomes? We live in a country founded on the principles of free markets. For some strange reason we’ve abandoned this tried and true method when it comes to our children’s educations. We apparently prefer letting government officials choose rather than parents. Why anyone thinks Mr. Ricci, Mr. Day and the rest care more about the education of our children than we (parents) do is beyond me. Yet Mr. Ricci and company make all the choices and we let them.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 19, 2008 @ 6:05 pm | Reply

  3. My understanding of this issue in Florida is that it is only for special needs students – most of low income families. “Choice” is not available to the general public. Yes, No?

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 23, 2008 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

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