Friday, February 05, 2016

Union filed a lawsuit demanding that the courts shut down the program that empowers low income parents to choose a private school

From my friend and ed warrior John Kirtley:
I wanted to share news of an important event that occurred recently in our state.
A day after his father's holiday, over 10,000 people travelled to Florida's distant capitol of Tallahassee to join Martin Luther King III in a protest against the lawsuit filed by the teachers' union to shut down the Florida tax credit scholarship program. 
This program empowers low income parents to choose a private school for their children if they believe it will be the right learning environment for them. Companies receive credits against state taxes due for donations to a state approved non-profit. There are currently 78,000 children on the program. This is what we know about them:
·         Roughly 30% are African American, and over 40% are Latino
·         They come from families making roughly $25,000 per year for a household of four, with 60% from single parent homes
·         They were the worst performers in their public schools when they left
·         They are now making learning gains equal to children of all incomes, including high income children
·         Their parents often come out of pocket to use the program, since the scholarships are limited by law to around $5,700 per year
We also now know these facts about the program:
·         The state's official fiscal research arm has issued reports showing the program saves taxpayers tens of millions per year
·         The more a public school has children leave for the program, the larger the learning gains for the children who remain at that public school. 
Despite all these benefits, the union filed a lawsuit in August 2014, demanding that the courts shut down the program and evict the children from their schools. One of their complaints: many of the children attend faith based schools. Florida has one of the largest taxpayer funded pre-k programs, under which tens of thousands of children attend faith based pre-k programs (often at the same schools as children on the tax credit scholarship). Florida also has a taxpayer funded college scholarship program which students use at faith based schools.—including three of the four historically black colleges in the state. Florida also has a K12 voucher program for children with special needs, under which roughly 30,000 children attend mostly faith based schools—again, often the same ones attended by tax credit scholarship children.
And yet the union has chosen to sue only the one serving poor, primarily minority children.
No tax credit scholarship program has ever been shut down by a state Supreme Court, and even the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving an almost identical program from Arizona that the union has no standing to sue. 
What will happen in Florida? We will see. But what we have already seen is who is on what side.
On one side we have the union. On the other we have low income families. We have over one hundred African American ministers, and over one hundred Latino ministers, who has come forth to denounce the suit.
They came to Tallahassee to ask: What side will you be on?
Here is a commercial that will be run by the Black Alliance For Educational Options (BAEO) that captures the spirit of the day:
Here is a link to a newspaper article about the march:
Below is a picture that captures just a portion of 10,000 coming up the street:
I hope you will share the news of this important event with your email recipients. Thank you!

 Subscribe in a reader