Public Education

opinion Essay
2888 words
2888 words

Public Education

Governor Jeb Bush initiated the nation's boldest voucher experiment in June of 1999 when he signed into law his Opportunity Scholarship Program. Florida is the first in the nation with a statewide plan allowing state-paid tuition for children in "F" graded schools to attend private schools or other non-failing schools. Opponents claim that giving parents the choice to use state education funds at private schools could end up bankrupting the public education system so many children rely upon. Proponents of vouchers argue the voucher program will give parents a way to help children trapped in failing schools. Matthew Berry, a staff attorney with the Washington, D.C. based Institute for Justice, believes, “As far as public money going to private education, it's just like college students who use their [federal] Pell grants to go to Notre Dame”(Soriano 18). I was happy that on March 14, 2000 Leon County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Smith declared the voucher plan a violation of Florida's constitution. I don't believe that vouchers will solve Florida's education problems.

Jeb Bush and Frank Brogan, the former Commissioner of Education in Florida, have made education their number one priority. After months of studying, arguing, lobbying, and dealing, they presented the A+ Plan to the Florida Legislature and it passed. Under this plan, "All schools will be graded 'A' through 'F' based primarily on state assessment test scores and other data which includes attendance, dropout rate, discipline data, and student readiness for college" (Voucher and Accountability for Public Schools). When a school is graded "F" for two years in a four year period, the children become eligible for vouchers which allow...

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...ournal 18 July 1999: B3.

Ladner, Charles. Telephone interview. 5 March 2000.

Nazareno, Analisa. “Tuition voucher foes launch pricey campaign to sway public

opinion.” Miami Herald 16 February 2000: B3.

Peltier, Michael. “Florida School Voucher Plan Ruled Unconstitutional.” Tallahassee

Democrat 14 March 2000: C1.

“Questions and answers on the education initiative.” Pensacola News Journal 18 July

1999: A1.

Soriano, Jennifer. “Vouchers: Choice or Neglect?” Shewire 16 March 2000: 18.

Streater, Amie K. “For some students, the road to an education is uphill, lonely.”

Pensacola News Journal 24 October 1999: A8.

Walsh, Erin. “Children fight to learn, even before class starts.” Pensacola News Journal 24 October 1999: A9.

Wilgoren, Jodi. “Florida’s Vouchers a Spur to 2 Schools Left Behind.” New York Times 14 March 2000: D5.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that vouchers aren't the answer to poverty-stricken families.
  • Compares the reading scores of the two voucher schools compared to hellen caro elementary, in escambia county.
  • Explains how parents at failing schools had to decide whether to request a voucher for their children to attend private school, request another public school or stay at their own school.
  • Argues that vouchers violate florida's constitution, which states that the state provides a free education through the public school system.
  • Explains that the escambia county school system released its academic profile of the students who left the failing schools, but the results were inconclusive.
  • Opines that vouchers won't solve florida's education problems. jeb bush and frank brogan presented the bush a+ plan to the florida legislature.
  • Opines that jeb bush's emphasis on education has focused unprecedented attention and resources on the florida schools.
  • Quotes walsh, erin, and wilgoren, jodi. florida’s vouchers a spur to 2 schools left behind.
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