School Voucher Ruling
By Arnold Kling
The Florida Supreme Court decided that school vouchers violate the state constitution.
The narrow question we address is whether [vouchers] violates a part of the Florida Constitution requiring the state to both provide for “the education of all children residing within its borders” and provide “by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education.”
I am not a lawyer. However, it seems to me that this ruling says that for any child to attend private school in Florida is a violation of that state’s Constitution. If I lived in Florida and paid for my daughter to attend private school, then according to the Florida Supreme Court Florida would be derelict in its duty to educate my daughter in a public school that is uniform, efficient, safe, etc.
UPDATE: I should point out that the ruling states:
Our decision does not deny parents recourse to either public or private school alternatives to a failing school. Only when the private school option depends upon public funding is choice limited.
This limit is necessitated by the constitutional mandate in article IX, section 1(a), which sets out the state’s responsibilities in a manner that does not allow the use of state monies to fund a private school education.
But the wording that they quote from the state constitution does not make the distinction between private and public money. It says that the state has an obligation to provide for the education of all students. It seems to me that private schools either provide such an education or they don’t. If not, then the constitution seemingly forces every student to attend public school.
Of course, if the Florida constitution were interpreted as applying to all citizens, then there would be pressure to amend the constitution. Such pressure is less likely to come in this case, because the court punished the families of children from failing schools rather than picking a fight with all private school parents.