Sunday, February 15, 2009

There Are No Jeb Bush Education Accomplishments

In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court ruled against Opportunity Scholarships vouchers.

Using the same term, “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’s 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 schools 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.

A Palm Beach Post found students in the Opportunity Scholarship program scored in an F in FACT testing. Palm Beach schools got around the problem by letting voucher students graduate without taking the FCAT. Palm Beach voucher students are required to take an online FCAT. The course is based in Pennsylvania.

"Florida's nationally recognized accountability system, as established by the Florida Legislature, works to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to achieve at higher levels," a DOE spokeswoman told Ms. Green. "By circumventing Florida's prerequisites for a state-sanctioned diploma, districts do a disservice to our students and to our state as a whole."

Republican lawmakers have no idea how voucher students are doing on the FCAT. The FCAT was designed to flunk public schools. If Jeb Bush was truly interested in FCAt results, he would have required private schools receiving state money to take the FCAT. "What I saw was that 90 percent of the energy went to undermining our public schools with vouchers and charters," said former K-12 education chancellor Jim Warford.

Under Bush, Florida led the country two years with the lowest graduation rate. Bush's education legacy is a joke. Bush will sell his bogus education accomplishments to Newsmax and the Wall Street Journal. Bush would not dare make the same claims to the New York Times or Washington Post. It is hard to be an education maverick when Florida's national education rankings are shameful. Bush had two terms to boost education rankings. He chose to underfund schools and attempt to sabotage the class-size amendment.

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