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School Vouchers Struck Down in Florida

The only interesting element of this Florida Supreme Court decision was the pretense utilized. One would expect a state supreme court to pull out the trusty cudgel of “separation of church and state” as has happened so many times before. Though SCOTUS has ruled that some seepage of public money to religious schools is permissible under the Constitution, the Florida constitution features a so-called Blaine Amendment which was specifically designed to limit the impact of religious schools upon the public enterprise. This has been a reliable state weapon in the battle against meaningful school reform, but one wonders if the decision not to base the decision on a Blaine structure was based upon a fear that a federal court might find Blaine Amendments themselves constitutionally questionable. Perhaps it was better to not mention it.

Instead, the Florida potentates used an obscure clause in the Florida constitution to invent and define a new education right that did not exist last week. The state constitution requires that Florida provide a "uniform, effective, safe, secure and high quality system of public schools." The people of Florida are to understand that somewhere in those words is a mandate that the aforementioned system is the only one allowable. This flies in the face of all experience and is clearly not what the plain language means. The system described is a minimum, not a maximum.

And though it may be uncomfortable for the liberal establishment to admit, one must point out that the current system is Florida has done a poor job of being “"uniform, effective, safe, secure and high quality.” In November, a class action lawsuit was filed claiming that the chronic academic and discipline problems experienced by minority students in Pinellas County amounts to discrimination. Jeb Bush made the voucher program the centerpiece of an education reform plan that helped to get him reelected.

So, to review. Liberals recognize that Florida schools are of poor quality and therefore ineffective under the current structure. But efforts to reform them are not to be considered if they deviate from the current structure. This kind of intellectual bankruptcy is endeminc to the postmodern left. It is now left to Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature to exhibit more than the ritual hand wringing evident when local officials were stealing the 2000 election and when Terri Schiavo was dying.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 6, 2006 12:44 PM.

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