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Florida school vouchers and religious teachings..articles from 2003, 2005, and 2011.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-26-11 10:42 PM
Original message
Florida school vouchers and religious teachings..articles from 2003, 2005, and 2011.
It's a topic that has been very well-covered, but yet it is being basically ignored.

From 2011 about Florida's corporate voucher program and who is reaping the benefits.

Floridas Corporate Tax Credit Program: Do They Know What They're Funding?

Religious schools across the nation are receiving public funds through voucher and corporate tax credit programs. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of these schools use Protestant fundamentalist textbooks that teach not only creationism, but also a religious supremacist worldview. They offer a shocking spin on politics, history and human rights.

....Florida has the largest school choice program in the country, followed by Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Over 54,000 tuition recipients are enrolled in private schools in Florida, with the majority of these students in a corporate tax credit program that allows businesses to divert their taxes, dollar for dollar, up to 75 percent of taxes owed to the state.

Floridas corporate tax credit program disbursed the full amount allowed last year -- $140 million dollars for tuition to students in 1,092 schools and has a cap of $175 million for 2011. These funds are handed over to private non-profits for distribution, with the vast majority since 2002 disbursed through Step Up for Students, also a recipient of funding from the DeVos family foundations. This is one of several names used by the Florida School Choice Fund, Inc. a 501(c)(3) headed by John Kirtley, a venture capitalist who is also vice chairman of the Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children and a director of the James Madison Institute, one of many right-wing think tanks that promote privatization of public education. (The institutes founding vice chairman, J. Stanley Marshall, has signed a proclamation calling for the end of public education.)

83.8 percent of the voucher are attending religious schools. Among curriculums used is that of Bob Jones University.

As of February 2011, 83.8 percent of the students in the Florida tax credit program were attending religious schools, approximately the same rate as Milwaukees voucher program. However, unlike Milwaukee, hundreds of the Florida schools fall into the category of right-wing evangelical or fundamentalist, with many using A Beka, Bob Jones, or ACE curriculum.

From 2005. More about the religious teaching going on in the voucher schools.

Many Private Schools Taking Vouchers Teach Creationism

Even though Florida's public school standards require the teaching of evolution and not creationism, millions of dollars in state money goes to teach the story of biblical creation, thanks to the state's voucher programs. Schools taking public money from any of the state's three voucher programs are not bound by the Sunshine State Standards, which all public schools must follow and be graded on each year with the FCAT.

"Many of the parents bring their kids here because they want a Christian education," said Frederick White, principal at Mount Hermon Christian School, where about a dozen of the 115 students are using vouchers. "And a Christian education does not include evolution."

About 25 percent of voucher-taking schools are nonreligious, and others are religious schools that apply the state's science standards, including instruction in evolutionary biology. But many - perhaps even most - of the 1,100 participating schools are of evangelical Christian denominations that teach the biblical story of creation in six days as literal truth.

The state does not track the curricula used by voucher-taking schools. In a survey conducted by The Palm Beach Post of voucher schools in 2003, 43 percent of the religious schools that responded indicated that they used either the A Beka or the Bob Jones curriculum, both of which teach that evolutionary biology is false and that God created all species on Earth.

Back in 2003 the Palm Beach Post was already covering this issue.

Increasing vouchers to religious schools stirs debate

Sunday, Oct. 12, 2003

TALLAHASSEE -- At the Ocala Word of Faith Academy, Florida tax dollars help teach children that people who do not accept Jesus as their savior go to hell.

The beliefs of Hare Krishna also are spread with state tax money, as teenagers who use vouchers to attend the Vaishnava Academy for Girls chant in front of the University of Florida on Friday afternoons.

Tax money even helps buy religious textbooks published by the Bob Jones University Press for use in the Citrus Park Christian School, which accepts corporate tax-credit vouchers.

Two-thirds of all private schools are religious, but about three-quarters of all schools taking vouchers are religious. In fact, 869 of the 1,158 private schools taking vouchers in Florida are religious schools. They represent 48 different sects, 97 percent of which are some denomination of Christianity, including 160 Catholic schools and 138 Baptist ones. Thirteen of the state's 38 Jewish schools, nine of the 11 Muslim schools and both of Florida's Hare Krishna schools similarly get vouchers.

Even though Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Davey ruled last year that tax-supported vouchers for religious schools violated the state constitution, the use of tax money at religious schools has mushroomed while an appellate court has considered the state's appeal -- as a lawyer for voucher opponents predicted it would.

Not long ago we learned about one county gaining much profit from vouchers, while public schools were suffering from the lack of funding.

Broward private schools benefit from Florida vouchers, while public schools are strapped for funds.

The Sun Sentinel did a good job of presenting how these vouchers work, and how they harm the public schools.

The program allows corporations that make contributions deduct those gifts from their corporate income and insurance premium taxes. Economists expect the expansion would cost the state $31 million in lost taxes next year and as much as $228 million in future years although those losses would be offset somewhat because taxpayers would pay less for students in the program than if they were attending public schools.

As to saying the schools would have to pay for less children, there's a problem with that. Many of the students return, but the money often does not return with them.


Tax-credit vouchers are funded with corporate donations, but it's money that otherwise would have been paid in state taxes. About 100 companies donated last year, including Walgreen Co., Burger King, ABC Liquors and Bankers Insurance Group. The average contribution is $1 million, East said.

Private schools that take vouchers must give students a standardized test not the FCAT but schools aren't graded and scores are released only for schools with at least 30 students.

Governor Rick Scott has some diabolic plans for the schools using vouchers. He calls them his Education Savings Accounts. It's just another way to get around the courts' ruling that public school money should not go to private schools. Those rulings were in 2002, 2004, and 2006.

Scott's transition office did not respond to inquiries from Mother Jones, but according to various news reports, Scott is cooking up an education proposal that would expand an existing voucher program designed for low-income and disabled kids, opening it to all students. The result would be that instead of public school funds filtering through the unionized public bureaucracy, it would go with the students, who could use the money to enroll in the school of their choicepublic, private, charter, or virtual. If parents are wealthy enough to pay for their child's education with their own funds, they can use the voucher money for laptops or school supplies, or even sock it away in a college fund. The proposed voucher amount, about $5500, is only 85 percent of the annual cost of educating a child in Florida.

It angers me enormously that our Democrats have not gathered up the courage to fight to save our public schools. I am not happy money that could be enriching public schools which follow state regulations is going to religious schools that often indoctrinate.

And it shocks me that there is not a single leader in either party speaking out about the dismantling of public education.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-26-11 11:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. Here's one of the court rulings.

"Tuesday, August 17, 2004 No Comments

NYT Florida Court Rules Against Religious School Vouchers

Florida appeals court ruled yesterday that a voucher program for students in failing schools violated the states Constitution because it sent public money to religious institutions. In a 2-to-1 decision, the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee found that the vast majority of students with vouchers used them to enroll in the kind of sectarian institutions, or religious schools, that are barred from receiving state money under the Florida Constitution."
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End Of The Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 06:01 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Not only what KimSarah (#2) said...
but also, what happened to the idea of "no taxation without representation?" Or did that end with the Revolutionary War?

I object to my tax dollars paying to teach kids to hate me because I don't believe what they believe.

Betsy DeVos is some of the BIG money behind this arm of the reform.

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kimsarah Donating Member (290 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:51 AM
Response to Original message
2. Where's the
recognition of separation of church and state? I realize the religious right wing radicals don't believe our founders ever meant for such a separation. But most of us do. Our state has been slashing public education funds while expanding vouchers for charter schools. Only those with money are leaving the dilapidated public schools for the nicer charter schools. Thus, the poor and disadvantaged children get left with the old schools and poorly paid teachers, while kids from wealthier families enjoy a better education. So we're back to segregated schools again, in a country where all children should receive quality education through high school. Quality health care, environment and education should not be just for the privileged, which is where our Ayn Rand robots are trying to take us.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-28-11 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #2
10. Yes, they appear to be working to end the separation.
I must admit I was seeing that sense of wanting religion in control...when I was growing up Southern Baptist. I never noticed it for what it was for years, but by the time I did.. hubby and I were already planning on leaving that church.
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Luminous Animal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:56 AM
Response to Original message
3. I love you madfloridian. K&R
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:52 AM
Response to Original message
5. Curriculums from Bob Jones University!! That is scary as hell.
I have numerous relatives who attended Bob Jones U. to become missionaries. They are some of the most fervent fundamentalists you will ever meet. Everything in the bible is the LITERAL truth to them.

Thank you for reminding us of how our tax dollars are being used to spread ultra right-wing christian propaganda and to indoctrinate our children.


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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I had not realized that until I read the article.
It's stunning that our public schools are being degraded so badly so private schools can use such a curriculum.
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russspeakeasy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
7. Thanks for the post Mad...
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. You are welcome.
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 01:21 PM
Response to Original message
8. kr -- back later to read --
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