Government

Floridians Opposed to Voucher Program

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: April 11, 2014 3:55 AM
Voucher Protest

Vouchers continue to be a controversial issue in the Sunshine State, with a new poll showing more than half of voters are opposed to providing scholarships to low-income students to attend nonpublic or private schools.

The Voter Survey Service, commissioned by Sunshine State News, found 55 percent of voters said they oppose vouchers, while a smaller number -- 42 percent -- said they support vouchers.

Only 2 percent of voters were undecided.

“This has been a tough sell,” said James Lee, president of Voter Survey Service, on the voucher issue.

According to the poll, voters in Southwest Florida had stronger opposition to expanding vouchers than voters in the Panhandle, with 61 percent of voters opposing them.

Lee says the regional results reflect a more “culturally conservative” Southwest Florida, which was also strongly opposed to offering in-state tuition rates for children of undocumented immigrants.

Beyond the regional differences, Lee also said it appeared there was an age difference between those in support of vouchers and those who oppose them.

“The only subgroup to favor school vouchers is the under 45 [age group], whereas for those [aged] 45 and up, there’s more opposition,” said Lee. “So there does seem to be a clean divide there.”

Vouchers poll



Legislation regarding vouchers has caused quite a commotion in the Florida Legislature. On Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans went head to head over a proposal to expand Florida’s voucher program, with Democrats proposing a slew of amendments, one of which would have required students in the state’s voucher program to take Florida’s “high-stakes” tests.

The proposal was, however, shot down by House Republicans by a 66-44 vote.

HB 7167 will head to a final vote on the House floor Friday.

“At the end of the day, we are trying to expand opportunities for kids,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford. “This bill will give more choices to more families and more students, and we think that's a great thing."

Nearly 60,000 students from low-income families attend private schools in Florida as a result of the voucher program. State data show that more than 80 percent of the schools participating in the program are religious schools.

Desire to get into the voucher program is strong -- it’s estimated that around 25,000 additional students are currently trying to get into the program.



Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen. 

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Comments (8)

Calvin
9:39PM APR 12TH 2014
There must be public accountability for public dollars. Private schools should be subject to open meetings and open records laws. The public should be able to elect private school boards which spend public dollars. The public should be alerted to school board meetings, be able to comment on proposed actions, and have a path to redress grievances against such boards for malfeasance and nonfeasance. Otherwise, vouchers are taxation without representation.
William
6:59PM APR 12TH 2014
The “public education system” is supposed to be about education and development of children. It’s NOT for exploitation of children to create your (or my) “job” or “career path”. The public must take back the “public schools” from the labor unions. Schools should be run for the benefit of the students - the children - NOT the labor union teachers.
JOE KREPS
8:09PM APR 11TH 2014
Private schools should never be subsidized by public money.
well they are
7:06AM APR 12TH 2014
Check the Florida Statutes on the Charter School conversion process passed when prince Jeb was governor. "They" get the school buildings, they get the taxpayer money to run their "for-profit" schools and we the taxpayers and our "supposed to be" elected school board member have no oversight over the operations of the private for profit charter schools operated on our properties for their profit.

And if Jeb Bush had of suck seeded he would have a law called "parent trigger" with which he could use disgruntled parents to trigger the charter school conversion of a so call low producing school. And, they are creating low producing schools my manipulating the grades down.

Parents of a special needs child in Florida was recently told that even though their child was testing at A-B levels the highest grade they were allowed to give the child by FEDERAL STANDARDS was a "C."

Since when did our schools have FEDERAL STANDARDS? Since Rick Scott-Jeb Bush and Obama inserted COMMON CORE into what is supposed to be the FLORIDA EDUCATION SYSTEM!
well they are
7:05AM APR 12TH 2014
Check the Florida Statutes on the Charter School conversion process passed when prince Jeb was governor. "They" get the school buildings, they get the taxpayer money to run their "for-profit" schools and we the taxpayers and our "supposed to be" elected school board member have no oversight over the operations of the private for profit charter schools operated on our properties for their profit.

And if Jeb Bush had of suck seeded he would have a law called "parent trigger" with which he could use disgruntled parents to trigger the charter school conversion of a so call low producing school. And, they are creating low producing schools my manipulating the grades down.

Parents of a special needs child in Florida was recently told that even though their child was testing at A-B levels the highest grade they were allowed to give the child by FEDERAL STANDARDS was a "C."

Since when did our schools have FEDERAL STANDARDS? Since Rick Scott-Jeb Bush and Obama inserted COMMON CORE into what is supposed to be the FLORIDA EDUCATION SYSTEM!
Robert Dominguez
1:22PM APR 11TH 2014
If it keeps taking funds from public schools i'm against vouchers, funny how the party of fiscal responsibility keeps giving our tax dollars to the private sector! Shell game! Stop attacking public schools!
Mark Halpert
10:25AM APR 11TH 2014
I believe the polling would be far more unfavorable if the public recognized that an extra billion for vouchers will result in about a $500 million reduction in public school budgets. Meaning art, music, media centers and even reading specialists may be cut. We need a good story that explains the real hit public schools take as we have more charters and voucher programs. Time for public schools to get the message, improve or you will suffer a slow death by 1000 cuts.
JC
9:07AM APR 11TH 2014
I am starting to question these polls of your.

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