Finally, a movement started in Florida 24 years ago by Gov. Jeb Bush has come to fruition, as the state adopts universal school choice.
Bush ran for office on school choice and made good his promise by pushing it through the Florida Legislature.
It got further impetus with tax credit scholarships, advocated by Tampa businessman John Kirtley.
But the idea goes back even farther. In 1955, economist Milton Friedman proposed universal school choice. A state would give money to every parent to pay for a child’s education in a private school or government school.
Teacher unions, which are a fundraising arm of the Democrat Party, have fought the proposal strenuously all along the way, using misinformation and untruths.
But it is law in Florida and it puts the Sunshine State in the vanguard of education reform.
Even without the new law students have been fleeing the government schools as those schools continue to push Far Left views on the students and attack parents who complain.
But the options have been limited to low-income families. They still get priority but income limits have been removed.
Choice supporters do not believe there will be an impact on private schools. The elite schools don’t take vouchers now and probably will not under the new law.
Throughout the years of debate, the left has focused on money, rather than education. They have claimed falsely that vouchers “drain money” from the government schools.
It is a half-truth. They get less money from the state but that is because they are paid on the basis of school population. In other words, they get a certain amount for each child. If a child leaves to go to a private school at the parent’s own expense the state also stops paying the school.
The truth that is carefully avoided by the rich, powerful teacher union bosses is that the parents of students in private schools not only pay for their own child’s education but those attending government schools as well.
Patrick Gibbons of Step Up for Students exploded those claims by pointing out the opponents were double-counting and also overlooking that the local schools will continue to get the same amount of local money, which they can spread among fewer students. Federal funds also have been excluded from some of the deceitful claims.
Furthermore, there is no proof that spending more money on schools increases student achievement. School costs, including teacher pay, have risen dramatically in the past 50 years with little improvement.
Another false comparison is on inputs rather than outputs. The left constantly complains that Florida spends less than other states on education as if spending less to get the same results or better didn’t matter.
The experience with vouchers has shown that the competition with private schools has helped government schools improve.
Opponents are claiming, falsely, that universal school choice will greatly increase the cost of education – after years of claiming, falsely, that education was under-funded.
Other states such as Arizona, Arkansas and Indiana are racing to catch up with Florida in making all schools better.