More Voucher Myths Dispelled

Published November 1, 1999

Florida Governor Jeb Bush was in Washington, DC, on September 23 to testify before a U.S. House panel about his opportunity scholarship program. The following day, he addressed a standing-room-only crowd at The Heritage Foundation on “What Florida Can Teach the Nation.”

One important lesson the governor related is that three well-known myths about vouchers already have been dispelled in Florida.

No “Brain Drain”

The aptitudes, income levels, racial makeup, and other demographic data for voucher students do not differ from the student population of schools the voucher students left, dispelling the myth of a voucher-induced brain drain from public schools.

Not for the Rich Only

Among the initial group of voucher students, 85 percent are minorities and 81 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, dispelling the myth that only high-income families will benefit.

Wakes up Public Schools

The two schools that have lost voucher students not only are determined to improve, but also have given power to the principals for hiring and firing, dispelling the myth that failing schools will fall further behind.

“There is also a role for Washington,” concluded the governor. “It’s to do less.”

Half of Florida’s fourth-graders cannot read at a basic level, a third of the ninth-graders maintain D or F averages, and almost half of the state’s students–48 percent–never graduate from high school. Sixty percent of community college students in the state must take remedial courses.