In Florida, vouchers win ground, but courts may have ultimate say

Patrick Jonsson:

Chikara Parks is a registered Democrat and a “huge fan of public schools.” The single mom of four school-aged children is also a fan of vouchers.

Ms. Parks, who is African American, has, with the help of Florida’s tax credit scholarship for families with limited resources, parlayed her children’s struggle in public schools to success at two private schools, Mount Zion Christian Academy and Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg.

The choice and autonomy have been empowering, she says, for her children – and for herself as a single mom. “It’s hard for some people to know their worth and know what they are able to do [for their kids],” she says by phone. “Vouchers help parents to understand that and be more heard, and that is an amazing thing.”

Ms. Parks has become an outspoken advocate for a growing constituency across the U.S. and specifically in Florida, where a constitutional battle over the approach is brewing.

On Thursday Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law that expands the state’s use of vouchers, which allow taxpayer dollars to fund tuition at private and religious schools. The legislation creates 18,000 new vouchers with a ceiling of $77,250 of household income per year – firmly middle class in a state with low taxes and a low cost of living.

Madison has largely rejected diverse K-12 governance. This despite spending far more than most while tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.