Another School Choice Hurdle

Last week the Florida Supreme Court threw out the state’s “Opportunity Scholarships” that allowed students in failing public schools to attend other public or private schools of their choice. The Court ruled that the state constitution “uniformity clause” was apparently violated by allowing students to attend schools that weren’t just like the ones they left. The result of this decision will be to force children to return to the very public schools the state already determined had failed them.

This strange ruling runs counter to a U.S. Supreme Court church/state ruling in 2002 which allows school choice programs that include even religious private schools as long as parents, not the state, determine where their children attend.

These two very different rulings define where the school choice debate is today. Will many school options be allowed, or will a narrow definition of uniformity relegate all children to a one-size-fits-all system that is clearly failing many of them?

On Friday, January 13th, John Stossel of ABC 20/20 will weigh into this debate with his latest TV Special, “Stupid in America: How We Are Cheating Our Kids.” John will lay out the arguments and explain why school choice leads to better results. You can watch it at 10pm this Friday on Channel 2 in Portland.

Then, make up your own mind about whether you would rather see a uniform school system, or an excellent one.

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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