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SPLC statement on Florida Senate bill that would fund private school vouchers with public school money

The Florida Senate Education Committee today endorsed a proposal from Gov. Ron DeSantis that would take more taxpayer money away from public schools and give it to unregulated private schools.

Florida lawmakers are on a dangerous path to dismantle public education in our state. The private school voucher program proposed in Senate Bill 7070 would raid the limited resources of public schools through an unprecedented expansion of private school vouchers.

Even while some counties in Florida are contemplating subsidized housing for public school teachers whose wages are so low they can’t afford to live where they work, private schools are getting rich while being permitted to cut corners and operate without meeting the same standards for a high-quality and equitable education.

Public schools serve all students, no matter their backgrounds. Private schools do not – they can cherry-pick which children they serve.

What’s more, when families take a private school voucher, they lose known academic standards, certified teachers, civil rights protections, services and accessibility for disabled students, free and reduced lunch options, building code regulations, and free transportation.

Already, $1 billion per year goes to these private school vouchers, yet Senate education leaders want to take even more scarce public funds, no matter the impact to the nearly 3 million children in our state who rely on public schools, and no matter the fact that, over a decade ago, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a similar voucher program to the one proposed today.

SB 7070 is an irresponsible and unconstitutional use of our taxpayer dollars. Prioritizing all students requires using those dollars for the “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high-quality” education guaranteed by our state’s constitution, not the expansion of private school profits.