School Choice Survives Another Lawsuit

Editor’s Note: The story below does not mean we favor school choice except as private choice by parents or parent. We interpret the use of governmental school as a means to change the procedures and policies of private education systems therefore interfering in an already difficult situation, the education of children. You have to remember that educational dollars dollars that flow through the state also entertain dollars from the federal government and through those dollars we have other demands upon education institutions that do not follow the norm. This does not mean the Heartland Institute is evil in all aspects, just with this one.

Image result for apple with wormsOn January 4, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship program and the McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities, putting an end to the 10-year legal battle against Florida’s Board of Education by opponents of school choice. In the decision, the court rejected the petitioners’ argument that the state neglected its constitutional duty to provide a uniform, efficient, and high-quality system of public education. Citizens for Strong Schools and other petitioners claimed FTC and McKay are examples of government waste that divert taxpayer funds from public schools to private schools, creating a separate and unequal education system.

Like the trial and appellate courts before it, the Florida Supreme Court concluded the petitioners’ argument raised political questions that should be answered by the state’s legislature, not in the courtroom. The court concurred that evaluating the state’s school system for uniformity, efficiency, and other non-judicial standards would be a violation of the state constitution’s separation of powers. Further, the courts agreed there is no research that proves the FTC and McKay programs have had any negative effect on the uniformity or quality of public schools.

Millions of Floridians will likely be very happy with this important outcome. A recent EdChoice survey found about 93 percent of scholarship parents are satisfied with the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, including 89 percent who said they are completely satisfied.

FTC, which serves economically disadvantaged students, is the largest private school choice program in the country, and evidence shows it’s also quite successful. A 2017 Urban Institute study found college enrollment and associate degree attainment increased for students who participated in the program. Non-participating students benefit, too. A 2010 study by Northwestern University researchers found competitive pressure public schools faced following FTC led to “general improvements” in their performance.

Similar positive outcomes followed the implementation of the McKay Scholarship, the nation’s first school voucher program for students with special needs. Manhattan Institute researchers evaluated the impact of the McKay program on the academic performance of both participating and non-participating disabled students. Researchers found that non-participating students with mild disabilities achieved significantly higher test scores in math and reading. They concluded that the increase in school choice forced public schools to provide a better education for the disabled kids who remained enrolled in their local district school.

In a recent Heartland Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson explains the growth in popularity of school choice programs. “The growth in support for these programs is not surprising, as copious empirical research on voucher programs, ESAs, and tax-credit scholarships finds these programs offer families improved access to high-quality schools that meet their children’s unique needs and circumstances,” Benson wrote. “Additionally, these programs benefit public school students and taxpayers by increasing competition, decreasing segregation, and improving civic values and practices.”

In the 21 states without any school choice program, state lawmakers should consider legislation that would ensure a child’s ZIP code does not dictate the quality of school he or she attends. Passing a Child Safety Account program would be a good first step on the road to achieving educational freedom.

The Heartland Institute

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