EdChoice on Florida Supreme Court victory for school choice

INDIANAPOLIS—EdChoice, a national nonprofit organization that promotes state-based educational choice programs, released the following statement on the Florida Supreme Court ruling today on the education funding and the state’s two largest school choice programs. The statement can be attributed to EdChoice Vice President of Legal Affairs Leslie Hiner.

“Children and families won an important victory in Florida, thanks to a 4-3 ruling today by the state’s Supreme Court in Citizens for Strong Schools v State Board of Education. This case challenged Florida’s method for funding education and its two largest school choice programs.

“Last year, more than 150,000 children in Florida participated in school choice programs that provided the best educational fit for them to learn and succeed. Families have been waiting nearly 10 years for this case to conclude, after plaintiffs alleged that the state did not provide adequate funding for education and alleged that school choice programs took funding away from public schools.

“The Florida Supreme Court disagreed, stating that an extensive factual record—including a four-week trial, dozens of witnesses, and over 5,000 exhibits—failed to show any connection “between any alleged low student performance and a lack of resources,” and failed to show any connection between “additional financial resources and improved student outcomes.”

The Florida Supreme Court upheld the rulings of the trial and appellate courts, which concluded plaintiffs had no standing to sue the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program because it is privately funded, does not involve any specific limitation on the legislature’s taxing and spending power, and does not involve a disbursement of funds from the state. The lower courts also affirmed that the McKay Scholarship voucher program provided a “beneficial option” for children with disabilities to access high quality education and could not possibly violate “the text of spirit” of Florida’s constitution.

“EdChoice was proud to file an amicus brief in partnership with the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. More than 38 percent of scholarships from Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship program are awarded to children from the Hispanic community. This school choice program has proven to be very successful: Families are satisfied!

“It is a very happy new year for families in Florida seeking an education that fits their children’s needs.”