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Voucher guru peeved by story

A letter from venture capitalist turned schools reformer John Kirtley:

Marc Caputo's article on 12/17 stated that school choice programs in Florida have no "scrutiny" because students using the programs don't have to take the FCAT. What he failed to mention is that students in the tax credit scholarship program for low income children must take a nationally recognized standardized test approved by the state, such as the Stanford 10. The tests must be comparable to the FCAT and the scores reported every year to a research group chosen by the state, so that the progress of the students can be measured--including against similar public school students. Of course the schools educating these children face the additional "scrutiny" of empowered parents, who can take the scholarships to a different school if they are unsatisfied--a scrutiny underperforming public schools do not face.

When Caputo stated that "every lower court" found the Opportunity Scholarship Program unconstitutional, he did not mention that the Appeals Court unanimously rejected the grounds used by the Florida Supreme Court to kill the program---that it violated the mandate for a "uniform system of public schools". Your readers should know that the Wall Street Journal called this verdict "the worst by any state court in decades" due to its tortured legal argument and its damage to school reform.

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It appears Mr. Kirtley needs to do his homework before spouting off. The reason these guys like Kirtley say they prefer voucher schools to the public schools is because of all the red tape he says they need to make them accountable. However, what he doesn't say is they oppose any type of accountability measures placed on voucher schools. Take the FCAT and you can have your vouchers Kirtley.

Bad Bob

Mr. Kirtey takes no responsibility for the failure of the original legal structure for his Corporate Income Tax VOUCHER program. The inability of the Department of Education to require even basic regulation of the scholarship (VOUCHER) organizations allowed hundreds of thousand of dollars to be stolen from the state (see case in Ocala). This was entirely HIS fault because he refused to allow even a small amount of regulation for the taking of millions from the state's coffers. Ironically, the same "scheme" used by these VOUCHER proponents to side-step (ignore) the constitution that they clearly understood was to claim that the money "never belonged to the state," which became the same claim of the criminal who stole the money in Ocala. By the way, there was not a single reason in the world to create the corporate VOUCHER program except that they knew that the opportunity VOUCHER program was unconstitutional. How many state VOUCHER programs will it take before all of the schools will get better (note: we had four state programs at one point in time)?

After eight years of "school reform" in Florida, one thing is clear to me. The original five pillars of the A+ Plan have been utterly forgotten (or they were never believed in the first place). What am I talking about you ask? Exactly my point! The state's role was to regulate outcomes and leave the process issues to school boards and school based leaders. Instead, the state is regulating every single process in our public schools from Tallahassee because they know everything.

Voucher Advocate

Voucher Advocates like Kirtley pushed for accountability, self - imposed accountability in his SFO and a few others also did the same, and fought for accountability legislation that was finally passed last session. The DOE also imposed more stringent requirements, and it was due to those requirements that these few abuses were uncovered. There are a lot more abuses in public schools than there are with the voucher programs.

Schools and parents will gladly take the FCAT just as soon as the funding level is equal. Give them full funding and Capital funds and they will be happy to compare test scores.

Rep Richardson, in a committee meeting last year, opposed conducting a study to look at the gains of private school voucher students compared to similar public school students because he knew the private schools do a better job, and he feared it would make the private schools look better.

One size does not fit all, and these programs give financially needy families options. Most of the voucher parents, by the way, are registered Democrat and are now educated as to which candidates and elected officials support these programs.

It’s interesting what happens when people are educated and empowered, the status quo is challenged. Maybe that is why the union wants to keep the status quo.

A Good Mom

Bad Bob;

You just don’t get it do you? You must be with the Teachers Union; you know the union that only cares about the system vs. the parents and kids. My child’s scholarship is less than ½ the money the state spent on my child when he attended public school. My son takes the SAT10 which is the same Norm Referenced Test in the FCAT; and most importantly the school is accountable to me and we can leave at anytime if we are unhappy. When my son attended public school there were no options available for us except the school we were assigned to. He was not happy and got bullied by the other kids because of his size. His grades suffered as a result. Now thanks to our voucher we feel empowered and have more options then we could ever wish for; he is happy and flourishing in his new school.

I read almost every week of scandals and abuse in the public schools not to mention the crime that never seems to get reported. Unfortunately there are bad people in our society and some of them are in the public schools too.

I especially love the hypocrites who don’t think poor parents should have choices for their children yet send their own kids to private school or buy a home in the best neighborhood which has A+ public schools. They make choices with their wallets, now I can make choices with my feet.

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