Florida's legislature is at it again, joining in a national trend of using the pandemic crisis to fuel school voucher initiatives.
Florida has allowed choice programs to grow like an unweeded garden, but Diaz's new bill proposes to collapse five "scholarship" (aka "voucher") programs into just two Education Savings Account (ESA) programs. So Family Empowerment, Hope, Florida Tax Credit Scholarship--all under one roof now, along with the newly condensed Gardinier-McKay programs for students with special needs.
We'll look at the bill more closely in a minute, but let's pause first to admire the cynicism behind this proposal to further gut Florida's public school system. Here's Diaz making his pitch for why he heard the call to propose this bill:During the past year, our scholarship families let us know that they wanted programs that were easier to understand and simpler to navigate. They also told us that they wanted more flexibility so they could give their children access to high quality education while continuing to keep them safe during the pandemic. This bill represents our effort to respond to those concerns and improve all our school choice programs by making them more family friendly. I am very proud to have my name attached to this bill
“What the world has learned during this pandemic is the importance of public schools to a functioning society, but one of the first bills out the gate this year in Florida undercuts public education. Parents want lawmakers to invest in and support public schools. This bill does the opposite, and would drain away more resources from the schools that educate the great majority of our state’s children,” FEA president Andrew Spar said in a prepared statement.