Sue Legg: The Origins of Florida’s Tax Credits for Constitutionally Banned Vouchers
Diane Ravitch invited Sue Legg, education director of the Florida League of Women Voters, to write a post explaining the history of the “Florida Tax Credit” plan, the template used by ALEC to provide de facto vouchers to “needy” students. As Ms. Legg’s post illustrates, most of the “scholarship” money goes to students attending sectarian schools… and into the pockets of those who “administer” the scholarships.
The beauty of this scheme is that it is so complicated the the adverse impact on public education cannot be easily explained in an “elevator speech” or a tweet… but the presumably positive aspects of it— namely “choice”— lend themselves to glib slogans.
Sue Legg, education director of the Florida League of Women Voters, wrote this history of the state’s tax credit program at my request. Thank you, Sue.
Not all Choices are Good Choices
Following Jeb Bush’s 1994 defeat in his run for governor, he dented his image. According to a Tampa Bay Times report, in a televised debate Bush responded ‘not much’ when asked what he would do for black voters. Faced with criticism, he launched a charter school in Miami, and the school choice movement in Florida began.
In 1998, John Kirtley, a venture capitalist, personally funded private school scholarships to low income children.
He took the idea to then Representative Joe Negron, who is now the President of the Florida Senate.
Jeb Bush was governor, and the state’s voucher and corporate tax credit scholarship programs began.
Florida’s constitution, however, prohibited the direct or indirect transfer of money from the…
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