Thursday, January 05, 2006

Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Vouchers

A 5-2 decision that slows down, but won’t stop, the Republican heist of public money to subsidize private education. The relevant portion of the 35-page opinion by Chief Justice Pariente [OSP refers to Florida’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, the Republican-dominated Legislature’s euphemism for vouchers]:

“Our inquiry begins with the plain language of the second and third sentences of article IX, section 1(a) of the [Florida] Constitution. The relevant words are these: ‘It is… a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.’ Using the same terms, ‘adequate provision,’ article IX, section 1(a) further states: ‘Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools.’ For reasons expressed more fully below, we find that the OSP violates this language. It diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools that are the sole means set out in the Constitution for the state to provide for the education of Florida'’ children. This diversion not only reduces money available to the free schools, but also funds private schools that are not ‘uniform’ when compared with each other or the public system. Many standards imposed by law on the public schgools are inapplicable to the private schools receiving public monies. In sum, through the OSP the state is fostering plural, nonuniform systems of education in direct violation of the constitutional mandate for a uniform system of free public schools.”

See the full opinion...