Legal Challenge to Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program
Appeals court judges heard oral arguments last week in the latest phase of a legal battle challenging Florida’s tax credit scholarship program that helps children from low income families attend private schools. The program offers tax credits to businesses who make donations to non-profits that provide private school scholarships to poor students. The program currently serves nearly 70,000 students, the majority of which attend religious schools.
The Florida Education Association, which is the state teachers’ union, filed the lawsuit with the support of the Florida NAACP. They argue the program diverts tax revenue away from public education to private schools and that it violates the Florida constitution’s mandate to provide a uniform and high quality system of free public education. The First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee is considering an appeal after a Leon County Circuit Court judge ruled last year that the FEA didn’t have legal standing to bring the complaint. Groups like the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Florida African American Ministers Alliance for Parental Choice are urging the FEA to drop the lawsuit. They say the tax credit scholarship program provides high quality educational opportunities to minority students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them. We’ll hear from both sides.
Joanne McCall, President of the Florida Education Association