By Jean Siebenaler. DWCF Legislative Chair
Well, here we go. We’ve been waiting for some “big” controversial legislation in the new 2023 FL State Legislature to drop and we now have one. We have a new Republican-sponsored HB 1 titled School Choice. This bill is the “big kahuna” — the expanded school voucher program that has been promised for years by the anti-public school forces in Florida. It will essentially decimate funding for public education, the great equalizer in our society, and it is scheduled for its first House committee hearing next week.
Your voices are needed NOW to let the committee members listed below — AND YOUR OWN LEGISLATORS (!) — know that you disagree with this bill. DO NOT give them a free pass. They need to be held accountable, but your voices are also needed to educate others in your clubs and community about the dire ramifications for families that will unfold from this legislation.
Here are some talking points you can use in your phone calls, emails, letters-to-the-editor, social media posts, and other outreach efforts:
- The current voucher scholarship program targets children from low-income families and children with disabilities, but this new HB 1 bill wipes out family income requirements and allows ALL Florida students to be eligible if the child does not attend public school.
- Even millionaires would be eligible to raid the funds for their expensive private schools or homeschooling services at the expense of the state education budget.
- Taxpayers would be funding more voucher schools that are exempt from state rules regarding teacher qualifications, academic standards, and testing.
- Voucher schools can charge tuitions that are higher than the scholarship amount per student, essentially forcing families to fill the financial gap.
- Public schools serve all students, but voucher schools are allowed to discriminate against gay students and others with disabilities, different religions, and disadvantaged backgrounds.
- 90% of students in Florida are enrolled in public schools where they are suffering from a teacher deficit and large class sizes. This could be fixed with more money. Why are they and their families being punished with HB 1?
- Democratic House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell states, “This is school choice for schools and not for Florida’s families.”
Please contact the legislators below on the House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee before Thursday and register your OPPOSITION to this bill that is designed to put a nail in the coffin of public education funding in Florida.
Image Credits: Freeimages.com:Rob Gonyea