Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Jeb Bush Weighs In On Florida Voucher Giveaway

Jeb Bush, who helped kick off Florida's long march toward dismantling public education, thinks House Bill 1, a bill to remove any income caps on voucher use, is a swell idea. Here's his press release on the subject:

The right to a publicly funded education is a promise our state makes to every student and yesterday, Speaker Paul Renner and members of the legislature took bold steps to ensure each and every Florida student can access the education of their choice.

Florida stands on the monumental verge of restoring the original intent of publicly funding education – by funding individual students – so each child can reach their God-given potential. HB1 is a forward thinking and important move toward ensuring Florida remains the nation’s leader in student-centered solutions. I applaud Speaker Renner and the Florida House for their vision and leadership in creating this unmatched opportunity for Florida students and families.

There's a lot of untruth in this statement, underlining the level of cynicism behind this pitch to simultaneously defund public education while shooting taxpayer dollars over to private schools. 

Vouchers are not about choice. When Bush says that the bill will 

 ensure each and every Florida student can access the education of their choice

he's simply not telling the truth. LGBTQ students will not be able to have any education of their choice, because schools that want to discriminate them are free to do so. In fact, those religious schools retain the right to reject or push out any students that don't fit their religious requirements. 

Nor will the amount of money in a Florida voucher (around $8K) allow students to "access" the education provided by pricey private schools. Parents who want to attend upscale schools can either take out loans or--well, just not go. Voucher fans love vouchers and school choice--just not enough to have taxpayers actually pay the true cost. 

Nor will students with special needs, who must waive their rights in order to collect their voucher, have a choice of education, unless they want to choose not to have supports in place. 

The notion that this expanded program would benefit students is silly. It will benefit private schools, and it will provide nice rebates to families who can already afford to attend those private schools. It's a new subsidy, a new entitlement, like taking the money taxpayers give to maintain a community park and giving it to rich families to keep their private gardens nice. 

Meanwhile, HB 1 could mean that a whopping $4.6 billion leaving the students who choose public schools, or who are simply stuck there because they are not welcome in any of the "choice" options; a system that will be pushed a bit further down the death spiral. 

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