{The Tampa Tribune} Jan. 3 editorial, “An encouraging Voucher Victory,” fails to correctly explain the basics of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

Vouchers divert money from the public school system by allowing corporations to fund the voucher program instead of paying taxes to the state. A corporation may receive tax credit for up to 100 percent of its state income tax liability. These tax dollars would otherwise be available to fund the public school system. With 67,142 students receiving vouchers, that is $86,069,038 lost by public schools.

Private schools receiving vouchers spend our tax money without accountability. Teachers do not have to be certified. Schools do not have to abide by curriculum standards or take state assessment tests. Some 70 percent of these schools are religious schools. Of these, 164 teach creationism, according to the online news site Slate.

President Shirley Arcuri

President Shirley Arcuri

Current voucher programs as structured violate the separation of church and state. The Florida Constitution states: “No revenue of the State or political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasure directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” The Legislature, by giving tax credits to corporations for payments to voucher programs, is taking tax money from the state and directing it to private schools, most of which are religious schools.

Florida is now ranked 45th in per student funding for education. Instead of vouchers, our tax dollars should go to making the Florida public school system work for all our children.

Shirley C. Arcuri
President of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County.

Published: January 13, 2015 in The Tampa Tribune.

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