Editorial Memorandum: Voters Affirm Commitment to Public Schools And Reject Vouchers on November 7
In California, billionaire dot.com entrepreneur Tim Draper fired his blunderbuss – the voucher proposal known as Proposition 38 – hoping to shatter the very foundation of public education. Even some voucher supporters recognized that Draper’s proposal went too far towards establishing a laissez-faire scheme that would have subsidized private schooling for the rich while leaving the vast majority of students behind. In Michigan, a more nuanced voucher initiative launched and financed by Amway multimillionaire Dick DeVos was given a much better chance of being accepted by the voters.
In recent months and especially since Zelman, pro-voucher groups have increasingly tried to hitch their wagon to a star-weaving 'civil rights' themes into their message in the hopes that this will resonate with the public and elected officials. Specifically, voucher backers are comparing the Cleveland ruling to the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.
State Circuit Court Judge Kevin Davey today ruled that Florida’s 1999 "A+" voucher law violates the state’s constitution, which prohibits the use of public funds to support religious schools. The decision, which is likely to be appealed by the state, was hailed by People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF). PFAWF, which has offices in both Miami and Tallahassee, is co-counsel in the case to the parties who have challenged the voucher law.
Analysis of the average cost in excess of private school tuition paid by Wisconsin taxpayers is illuminating. Both the numbers of schools receiving this state subsidy and the average dollar amount of that subsidy are high. Eighty-nine percent of the religious schools participating in the voucher program—54 out of a total of 61—received a voucher payment that exceeds their school tuition.