School Boards Association Points Out Voucher Policy Failures to Florida Court


Brief Sets Voucher Record Straight in Bush v. Holmes Case

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Alexandria, Va. – March 22 - The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has joined a group of education, religious, and civil rights groups in urging the Florida Supreme Court to strike down the state of Florida’s private school voucher program. NSBA signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by leading education groups, including the National PTA and the American Association of School Administrators in the ongoing voucher litigation case, Bush v. Holmes.

The brief supports the plaintiffs, a group of parents of public school children, against the state of Florida, which currently provides vouchers to students from “academically distressed” school districts to attend private school. The brief focuses on policy and research issues that surround vouchers and refutes information provided to the court in a series of friend-of-the-court briefs about the success of various voucher experiments across the country.

"Voucher programs do immense harm by diverting tax dollars to private schools," said Julie Underwood, NSBA chief counsel. "Public schools lose the resources they need to put in place programs that have proven effective in improving students’ academic performance."

Noting that the issue will ultimately be decided on constitutional grounds, she said that, nevertheless, the Court’s consideration should not be tainted by unsupported and inaccurate claims about the educational merit of voucher programs made by the defendants.

The brief points out that the available research does not support the argument that vouchers improve the academic performance of students who receive them and discusses numerous studies that have proven vouchers fail to raise achievement levels for the students in the programs or for those who remain in public schools.

"Legal issues not withstanding, vouchers for a few students remain a bad alternative to improving public schools for all students,” said Anne L. Bryant, NSBA executive director. “Florida's program, like all voucher experiments, ignores the needs of the 90 percent of students who attend our public schools, and drains away critical dollars.”

The National School Boards Association, a federation of state school boards associations representing more than 95,000 local school board members, closely monitors the courts and regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs in cases that affect the nation’s 50 million public school students.

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