This op-ed, by prominent Florida pastor Nino Gonzalez, originally appeared in Spanish in the latest edition of La Prensa. Here is the English translation.
A lot of people misread our poor communities. They think because people are financially poor, they must be intellectually poor. But we know all of our children have the ability to learn at the highest levels, and to live up to their God-given potential. We also know a key to making that happen is matching them to the learning environments that are best for them.
This is why I support school choice. And this is why I am so disappointed with the lawsuit that seeks to kill the Florida tax credit scholarship program.
A year ago, the teachers union filed suit to end the program, which is the biggest private school choice program in America. Never mind that it has been in existence for 14 years and serves 77,000 low-income children, including about 30,000 Hispanic children. And never mind that a judge ruled in May that the union did not have standing to sue, and that its claims of harm to public school students were “speculative.” The union decided to appeal, and its president promised to fight all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.
This is wrong. Freedom and choice are core American values, so why is education an exception? Why does the union want to block poor parents from schools that work for their children? There are no good answers.
The suit is even more wrong when you consider how many Hispanic students struggle. In 2014, only 50 percent of Hispanic 10th graders in Florida passed the reading test they must pass to graduate. The numbers were even worse in Central Florida. In Orange County, 46 percent passed. In Osceola, 41 percent. In Polk, 36 percent.
I don’t bring this up to disparage public schools. Many of them are working tirelessly. But other schools can help our children succeed too. Continue Reading →