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Union, School Board Association Announce Lawsuit Over Private School Vouchers

The Florida Education Association, Florida School Board Association and a coalition of other groups want the state courts to do away with the corporate tax scholarship program.

FEA Vice President Joanne McCall sums up her group’s argument against the state’s school voucher program like this:

“People have a choice. If they want they can put their kids in private schools. That’s their right. But it’s not the public’s responsibility.”

The corporate tax scholarship program lets businesses give a portion of their taxes to organizations providing low income students with stipends to attend private school. The Florida legislature allowed middle income families to qualify for the program this year. The union has long argued that money would have otherwise gone to public schools.

Outside of the FEA’s headquarters, supporters of the program, flanked by more than 50 kids, held their own press conference, blasting the lawsuit.

“You take away this scholarship you take away the chance for a child to dream and believe in a county that’s free to make choices, and that education is power," says Michelle Pacheco, Director of Potter's House Academy in Orlando.

Florida’s legislative leaders say they’ll defend the corporate tax program in court. The union’s attorney expects other groups and entities to jump into the case on both sides. The NAACP and Florida League of Women Voters is also part of the lawsuit. There are at least two more challenges to the state's education policies pending in the courts.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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