considering expanding a voucher-like tax credit program because, legislators
keep saying, there is a huge waiting list of families who want to participate.
It turns out that there is no waiting list.
been considering legislation that would expand the state’s Tax Credit
Scholarship Program, a voucher-like scheme that allows public money to be used
for private school tuition but wouldn’t require much if anything in the way of accountability from schools that accept vouchers.
(For example, the students wouldn’t have to take the high-stakes standardized
tests required of public school students.)
Republican Bill Galvano of Bradenton, wound up pulling the bill after
stories about the lack of accountability began to spread, and he cited the
accountability measures as the reason for his action. He did not mention an
embarrassing video that was uncovered in which Doug Tuthill, the president of
Step Up for Students, which administers the tax credit program, talks about how
much money his organization spends funding political campaigns. The Tampa Bay
Times wrote about the
video in this story, which said in part:
the expansion of the program was dead in the legislature for the year, Florida
House members found a way to resurrect it by combining it with another reform
bill still alive. What will happen is unclear.
that the expansion of the program has been pushed by Step Up For Students based
on what it and supportive legislators have said is a very, very long waiting
list of families who want to participate. Rep. Erik Fresen, a Republican from
Miami who was one of the legislators who figured out how to keep the expansion
idea alive, said at a hearing in Tallahassee about the bill that there is a
waiting list of families seeking the tax credits that now stands “at 100,00
students.” During the debate about the legislation, a figure of 34,000 families
on a waiting list has been thrown about, as have other figures.
numbers suggests there is an actual waiting list. But, it turns out, there
isn’t. After school activists and reporters asked for details about the waiting
list, Step Up For Students acknowledged that, alas, it doesn’t really keep one.
There aren’t any people on the waiting list because there isn’t a waiting list.
blog, which is published by Step Up For Students, wrote in this
organization has sought an expansion of the program, and legislators have cited
the waiting list as a reason for funding it.
Whatever the demand, it remains the case that
public funding has no business being used to pay for private school tuition.
That’s the bottom line.