Several thousand parents, community leaders and religious groups have converged on Tallahassee to demand Florida’s largest teachers’ union drop a lawsuit which objects to a state-sponsored education tax credit.
The Florida Education Association (FEA) filed a lawsuit opposing the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship in 2014 after the state assembly expanded eligibility for the program. The FEA contends the program is unconstitutional.
A Florida circuit court judge ruled in 2015 the FEA had no legal standing to pursue their litigation; however the FEA appealed the circuit court’s ruling.
Launched in 2001, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship aids over 78,000 low-income children with tuition assistance at private schools through dollar-for-dollar tax credits. Florida firms which donate to the program receive tax credits in exchange for charitable contributions to organizations which disburse private-school vouchers.
The program’s budget amounted to $447 million in 2015 and is expected to grow to over $560 million in 2016.
Opponents of the FEA’s suit include Martin Luther King III and a medley of school-choice organizations.
“This is about justice; this is about righteousness. This is about freedom, the freedom to choose for your family and your child,” said King.
The FEA stated it would not abandon its lawsuit.
This is characteristic of the teachers’ unions: They fear competition and respond by exercising arbitrary power.
Dismayed by the emphasis on private interests involved in education, teachers’ unions do little to hide their contempt and reflexively pivot to the court system to dismantle a plan of action designed to distribute relief to children attempting to escape failing public schools.
For inner-city families, education decisions are incredibly difficult: They face rising tuition and travel time if the family does not reside near a private school. Similarly, the alternative is depressing: In some neighborhoods, there are no private schools and the only fallback is sending their children into the fiasco of failed public schools in their neighborhood.
By taking no account of the hardships faced by urban families, the FEA’s lawsuit signals its intent to remain nothing more than a job-protection society with the education of children, at most, a secondary concern.
Moreover, teachers’ unions are not interested in saving the crumbling empire to which they preside; their paramount concerns are utilizing unforgiving ploys to secure pay increases and preserving the generous pension plans for their leaders and members once the kingdom collapses.
School-choice advocates have emerged as visionaries and have discovered a way to give their perspective concrete expression through support for voucher programs and charter schools: They have duplicated the teachers’ union tactics by husbanding resources and challenging the all-powerful education unions for the sake of their children.
[Tampa Bay Times] [Photo courtesy Getty Images]