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Florida Supreme Court: Vouchers? Hell No!

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Well, I'm glad this happened, the Supreme Court released an opinion today on Jeb Bush’s Opportunity Scholarship Program and the decision immediately outlaws any further use of taxpayer funds for private or church based schools.

By BILL KACZOR Associated Press Writer

January 05,2006 | TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court struck down a voucher system that allowed some children to attend private schools at taxpayer expense, saying Thursday that it violates the state constitution’s requirement of a uniform system of free public schools.

The 5-2 opinion struck down the Opportunity Scholarship Program, championed by Gov. Jeb Bush, which was the nation’s first statewide system of school vouchers.

Under the 1999 law, students at public schools that earn a failing grade from the state in two out of four years were eligible for vouchers to attend private schools.

Judges had allowed the state to continue the program while the case was on appeal, and about 700 children are attending private or parochial schools through the program.

About 24,000 more attend such schools under more recently created programs, including one for children with disabilities. Thursday’s ruling did not directly affect those programs but could eventually be cited as a precedent.

Chief Justice Barbara Pariente, writing for the majority of the court, said the Opportunity Scholarship Program “diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools,” which are the sole means set out in the state constitution for educating Florida children.


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