Florida rejects using public funds for religious school tuition

Florida voters defeated a measure that would have allowed the use of public funds for religious school tuition, effectively turning back an effort that was expected to lead to a state-wide voucher program.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that only 44 percent of voters supported Amendment 8, aimed at repealing a state constitutional ban on sending state money “directly or indirectly” to any “church, sect or religious domination,” which includes religious schools. The initiative needed 60 percent of the vote to pass.

The measure was backed by Republican legislators who want to implement a voucher system in Florida that would allow families to use public funds to pay tuition at private/religious schools.

A statewide voucher program was ruled unconstitutional in 2006 but voucher supporters keep pushing, with the backing of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who has voiced support for the idea of giving every child public money to attend whatever school they want.

Critics of the initiative argued that voucher programs have not improved student achievement and harm public education.

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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Valerie Strauss · November 6, 2012