Spurred on by Governor Ron DeSantis, Jeb Bush, and Betsy DeVos, the Florida Senate endorsed a fifth private voucher program. 

“The bill would create a new Family Empowerment Scholarship — the state’s fifth voucher program — that could help up to 18,000 students pay private school tuition with state-backed scholarships. The program would target youngsters from low-income families but could be open to more middle class ones, too, with an income limit of nearly $80,000 for a family of four….

“Every parent knows what’s best for their individual child, and at no point should we turn over that responsibility to the government,” said Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, one of the bill’s sponsors.”

The new program would be funded with money taken from the state education budget, up to $130 million. Other vouchers programs are “tax credits” given to corporations or individuals. Because this money comes right out of the state budget, it might be subject to legal challenge since it directly violates the state constitution’s prohibition on public money for religious schools.

Republicans are betting that the state courts will ignore the state constitution and the 2012 referendum that went against Jeb Bush’s effort to change that provision of the state constitution.

More than 80% of students using vouchers attend religious schools. Voucher schools “do not have to give students state tests nor meet state standards when it comes to academics, teacher credentials or facilities.”

Florida Republicans continue their  assault on public schools.

Florida is no model for the nation.

On the NAEP, Florida ranks at the national average in 8th grade reading and math. It has large achievement gaps between black and white students. Ignore Florida’s fourth grade scores; they are tainted by the state policy of retaining third grade students who don’t pass the state reading test.

I don’t know whether voucher students are included in NAEP’s sample. The State makes sure they are not included on state tests.