ACLU of FL Blasts Governor's Approval of First-Ever Statewide Voucher Program

June 21, 1999 12:00 am

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Monday, June 21, 1999

MIAMI–The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida deplores Governor Jeb Bush’s approval today of the first statewide private and parochial school voucher program in the United States.

Tomorrow, the ACLU, which lobbied in opposition to the voucher program in the recently concluded Florida Legislative Session, will join with other civil rights and public education advocates, educators, and school board members to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the voucher program.

While there are many positive aspects of the program approved today, vouchers — or “opportunity scholarships, as the Governor insists on calling them — threaten to weaken public education by using tax dollars to fund a private and parochial school system in violation of the Florida and U.S. Constitutions.

Most Florida families will continue to chose and rely on their neighborhood public school to educate their children. It is the State’s constitutional responsibility to make sure that no neighborhood public school is a “failing” school and that each is a place for educational innovation and world class education — not to fund an alternative system of private and parochial schools.

While the Governor has declared vouchers to be his No. 1 priority for 1999, the ACLU’s top priority will be to defend the constitutional principle requiring separation of church and state and to prevent tax dollars from being diverted from the public schools to private and sectarian schools. We will work to ensure that no Florida family is forced to pay for a religious education for their neighbor’s children.

The ACLU has been in the forefront of the fight against vouchers and in support of public education. The ACLU has lobbied in opposition to vouchers in Congress and the State legislatures, and has been actively involved in lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of vouchers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Vermont, Maine and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The ACLU’s complaint is online at:

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