Another Florida newspaper, this time in the state capital, has come out supporting the nation’s largest private school choice program, which serves more than 78,000 low-income students.
The statewide teachers union, the NAACP and other groups are challenging tax credit scholarships in court, and the First District Court of Appeal heard the case last week.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush used to tell a story about a father and son walking along a beach as the tide washed hundreds of starfish up onto the sand. As the boy worked feverishly to throw them back into the ocean, his father chided him, “You can’t get them all, this won’t make any difference.”
“Probably not,” the son replied as he picked up another stranded starfish, “but it’s sure going to make a difference for this one.”
Bush’s top-to-bottom overhaul of Florida’s education system included the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which allows businesses to donate corporate income tax revenue to organizations that pay tuition for needy children to choose better schools, including private academies or church-affiliated schools. Advocates of the program say it empowers poor parents to do what financially comfortable families can do — that is, to afford a better learning environment for their kids.
Step Up For Students, which publishes this blog, helps administer the tax credit scholarship program.
It’s clear the Democrat‘s writers have looked into the legal minutiae at the heart of the case, like the difference between a tax credit and an appropriation from the state treasury, and that they’d like to see more per-student funding for public schools — a cause the scholarship program may help, rather than hurt. It’s worth reading the whole article.
“It’s a sad reality that some schools are horribly deficient and the corporate tax scholarships can’t rescue all the poor kids trapped in them,” it concludes. “But, as in Jeb Bush’s starfish story, it can sure make a difference for those it does reach.”
Other newspapers have weighed in. The Tampa Tribune (recently merged with the Tampa Bay Times) had been critical of the suit, and the Lakeland Ledger and Panama City News Herald have also supported the program. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and St. Augustine Record, on the other hand, have supported the lawsuit. The Palm Beach Post weighed in here.