Facts About Vouchers
Florida Voucher Program
Florida’s voucher program has been held by a state trial level court to violate the Florida Constitution. That ruling is on appeal. In the meantime, the Florida voucher program continues in operation.
In Florida, many religious school administrators have stated that they would not be willing to accept public school students if required to excuse them from religious activities. Said one private school principal, “[i]f taking government money meant we would have to back down on our convictions of teaching children religion, I don’t think we would accept.”22 Another said she would be happy to accept voucher students but added: “[t]here are no exemptions…We won’t try to make them become Catholic but everyone goes to every class and, likewise, we go to church on Fridays.”23
In 1999-00, the first year of the voucher program, only students attending two public schools, both in Escambia County, were eligible to participate. Fully 80% of that county’s private schools are religious, enrolling more than 93% of the county’s private school students. Mission statements from Florida sectarian schools clearly demonstrate that religion is inseparable from the curriculum. For example, one voucher school, the Little Flower School, “is committed to educating…in accordance with the educational mission of the church…The young people in Little Flower School must experience the Gospel in order to proclaim it now and throughout their adult lives.” Another school’s objective is “to secure a decision from each student that Jesus Christ is Lord of his or her life.”24