Monday, May 19, 2008

Vouchers Making a Comeback In Florida 

You may remember that the notorious Florida Supreme Court outlawed the state's opportunity scholarship program in 2006. It was a dark day for the school choice movement.

But it looks like we have figured out how to get around legal challenges that say private school vouchers do not provide "uniform" access to a public education, language that is in many state constitutions.

The work-around is a plan initially developed by the late Joe Overton of the Mackinac Center. It involves setting up non-profit authorities which distribute tax-deductible funds contributed by individuals or companies so that students can pay for private schooling.

This is what Florida created in 2001. And while the old opportunity scholarship program helped 750 kids when it was ended a couple of years ago, this time 20,000 disadvantaged students are enrolled.

Today the Wall Street Journal reports that this tuition assistance program was just expanded to aid an additional 6,000 individuals. But perhaps more importantly the editors point out that while no Democrats supported the plan in 2001, now a third of state legislators voted in favor of increasing the number of students who could participate. It appears that just like D.C.'s Marion Barry, Florida Democratic state politicians are seeing that their constituents like the idea of school choice.

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