School Reform Advocates React to Florida Voucher Initiative

Published April 30, 2008

(April 30, 2008 – Chicago, IL) In a move expected to trigger legal battles over using taxpayer money for private schools, a key legislative commission in Florida has agreed to give voters a chance to reverse a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that voided a school voucher program.

The voucher initiative also includes a provision requiring public schools to spend at least 65 percent of their funds on direct classroom instruction, not administrative costs.

Florida’s Taxation and Budget Reform Commission approved seven constitutional amendments for the November ballot. Each needs 60 percent approval from voters to take effect. The commission meets every 20 years with the power to put constitutional amendments directly on the ballot.

Experts in the school reform movement contacted by The Heartland Institute praised the commission’s decision but expressed skepticism about the initiative’s likely success.

The following statements can be quoted or journalists may contact them directly for further comment.

“Ballot initiatives are notoriously tough to pass because it’s harder to convince people to enact something new than keep the status quo. As a result, even if the Florida initiative survives constitutional scrutiny over its clarity, the proposal shackling school choice to a 65 percent spending requirement is still probably doomed. It’s hard enough to pass a ballot with one new proposal. Giving voters two new things to deal with is close to suicide.

“If Florida’s school choice proposal goes down, at least 65 percent of the fault could very well lie not with choice, but its partner on the ballot.”

Neal McCluskey
Associate Director
Center for Educational Freedom
Cato Institute
[email protected]

“Teachers’ unions have done more to damage American public schools than any other group or individual. Choice in education will empower parents with greater control of the education that is best for their child.” Richard Moss
Member, Utah State Board of Education
[email protected]

“Florida schoolchildren must not be left to founder in schools that can’t or won’t improve no matter how many more pennies we promise to give them tomorrow. Let every education dollar follow students to better schools today.” Vicki E. Murray, Ph.D.
Senior Policy Fellow, Education Studies
Pacific Research Institute
[email protected]
916/448-1926, Ext. 4

For more information about The Heartland Institute, contact Media Relations Manager Harriette Johnson at 312/377-4000, email [email protected].