Get this: There's a new principle in American education -- namely, that public schools are to be "uniformly" bad. Such is the rock-bottom meaning of that 5-2 Florida Supreme Court decision last week scuttling a public school voucher program.What scares me is the precedent that this decision could make for those who oppose charter schools. Because charter schools, although totally public, often get waivers from the state to do things differently.
You needn't sift for long the legal gobbledygook to figure out that the Florida decision cuts aspiring students off at the knees and rewards substandard performance by their teachers and administrators.
Florida's constitution requires that "free public schools" be, among other things, "uniform." Which, by public consensus, many surely are -- uniformly bad. Which is why the state created a voucher program in the first place -- so that victims of such oppressive uniformity could opt either for public schools or private ones, with the state paying the bill.
Under the program, 730 such students are being educated in private schools. The idea is that we'll drag 'em back to the dungeons next fall. Why (according to the court's reasoning) should these brats, trying to claw their way out of ignorance, be allowed to undermine the Florida public school system's proud reputation for, ah, insufficiency? A vast, thundering irony here is that the constitution, besides requiring uniformity in education, mandates schools of "high quality"!
If you are interested in this blow from our faves on the Florida Supreme Court, my daughter, who has always been deeply interested in school reform, had lots of links to reaction to this travesty of a decision.