Florida’s teachers union announced a lawsuit Wednesday aiming to block a new law that, among other things, expands eligibility for tax credit scholarships and creates the second-in-the-nation personal learning scholarship accounts program.
The suit doesn’t argue the programs themselves are unconstitutional. Like a recent challenge of Alabama’s tax credit scholarship program, it focuses on how the law was passed.
The six-page complaint filed in Leon County Circuit Court argues lawmakers violated the state’s “single-subject” rule by combining the school choice measures into a larger education bill that expanded collegiate high schools, created an “early warning system” for struggling middle school students, and grew incentives for schools to offer career education programs.
“It is an outrage that corporate voucher expansion was tacked into an unrelated bill and slipped into law on the final day of session,” Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall said, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald.
The lawsuit drew a sharp response from Patricia Levesque of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, who tried to put the focus on the students who would benefit from the new options.
“There are those who believe families should have options and trust parents in those decisions for their kids,” she said in a statement. “And sadly there are those who find educational choices threatening to their political power.”
That’s what at stake. But since the lawsuit itself is about the nuances of legislative procedure, here’s some background.
The single-subject rule. Florida’s constitution requires every law to “embrace but one subject and matter properly connected therewith, and the subject shall be briefly expressed in the title.” The union’s legal complaint argues the various provisions of SB 850 “are not related to each other, except in the broad sense that all have something to do with education.” Continue Reading →