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Politics

10,000 School Choice Supporters to 'Rally In Tally'

January 18, 2016 - 4:00pm

Thousands of civil rights activists and educators will flock to Tallahassee Tuesday to throw their support behind Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship program, a voucher scholarship program which allows thousands of low-income students to attend private schools in the Sunshine State.

Headlining the rally will be Martin Luther King, III, the son of the famous civil rights activist who championed equality between blacks and whites in the 1960s. 

Save Our Scholarships Coalition and other education groups will lead around 10,000 civil rights activists, educators, parents and students for the “Rally in Tally,” marching through the streets of Florida’s capital city to tell the state’s largest teachers’ union to save the tax credit scholarship program.

Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship currently serves 78,000 students, most of whom are low-income minorities. Students participating in the 14-year old program are given “vouchers” to attend private schools of their choice as opposed to attending a regular public school.

Companies who give money to the scholarship program are given tax credits equal to their donations.

That program is under attack, however, from several groups across the state. Led by the Florida Education Association, the groups  have filed a lawsuit against the voucher program, alleging it is unconstitutional because it takes money away from the state’s public education system. 

Tallahassee judge George Reynolds dismissed the suit in May, saying the program did not financially harm Florida’s education system. Reynolds also rejected the suit because he said the FEA did not have legal standing to pursue the case.

But the FEA says it won’t give up on its challenge, planning to take the lawsuit all the way to the Florida Supreme Court if necessary. The case is currently pending appeal.

“There’s only a certain amount of money in the pie,” FEA President Joanne McCall said. “When you start diverting funds meant for public schools to private entities — and a lot of them are for-profit — you can’t provide what you need to provide for the public school system.” 

But supporters of the program say the teachers’ union isn’t fully cognizant of the impact taking away the program would have. 

“It’s important for the members of the union to know exactly what the FEA is doing when it’s threatening the existence of this good program,” said Save Our Scholarships spokesperson Ryan Banfill. “These are kids from low income families.”

Banfill told Sunshine State News buses would be taking supporters of the program to Tallahassee for the rally. Some buses would be leaving as early as 1:30 a.m. to arrive to the rally on time. 

“[These groups] are a whole, big and wide coalition who support this important scholarship program for this state and who are galvanized to demand the FEA drop this lawsuit against this spectacular program,” he told SSN.

The FEA held its own rally demanding education reform at the Capitol last week. Around 2,000 teachers made the trek to Tallahassee to protest high-stakes testing and the student voucher program among several other education issues. 

Civil rights activists from around the state will show their support at the rally. In addition to King, Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes Jr. of Tallahassee’s Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Victor T. Curry of Miami’s New Birth Baptist Church will also be participating. 

The march will begin at 10 a.m. Ryan Banfill told SSN program supporters would march up Pensacola Street and eventually fill the area all around the Florida Supreme Court on Duval Street in Tallahassee.

The rally will be held from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Comments

This kids are also members of this society, they need to be given the opportunity to succeed and many public schools are not doing so, some teachers don't have the time or won't dedicate the time to children who need more help than others. My kids benefit from this scholarship and I've seen the change in their confident, they are motivated to work because they see themselves learning something that public schools didn't do for them.

If you look more closely into the program and all the children it covers you will see it also helps children with disabilities, both learning and physical. Although that population of students is smaller they are important! My children were left behind in public schools despite my best efforts until they had the right teacher that pushed for learning disability testing. The public schools didn't have anyone qualified to teach them in a way they could comprehend the lessons and NO they aren't stupid, they just learn differently. IQ test revealed they are actually ahead for their ages... McKay falls under this program but is for disabled children. Their scholarship (school voucher) helped me get them into private school. I pay the tuition difference myself for both of them. They were both 2 full grades levels behind and both failed a grade when they were younger. One is now at grade level and the other is above grade level. Something public schools couldn't do for them. Before deciding to end a program you may want to look and see all the programs covered and how they impact the lives of children and their futures...

Yes, it also helps kids with disabilities who will not do well in public schools for many reasons. Taking away a disabled child's chance to be successful is not what educators are supposed to be about.

Sounds like "mini-affirmative-action" to me: a follow up version of the "Affirmative-Action" debacle of the '70's that put millions of UN-qualified persons into colleges and jobs that they weren't suited, and ill-equipped for, across this nation (the White House being a prime example),...which America is now "paying a dear price" for. If you DON'T qualify on your own,..WHY SHOULD WE KEEP GIVING YOU "TROPHIES"?????? signed// "a fed-up Democrat"

This is a pro choice rag sheet.

This has nothing to do with cival rights it's about making money. School choice is about profits.

Absolutely. And the profiteers have co-opted black leaders to help their goals, fir 30 pueces of silver. Since when are low income people "entitled" to attend private schools? Why aren't they doing their part to send their kids to public schools ready to learn, like everyone else? Just more war on the middle class and attacks on our local communities.

So you expect low-income parents to work 40+ hours a week on low wages, recover from the physically strenuous work that they do for most of the week, and THEN prepare their children with the limited education that they possess? You're asking a lot from parents who are already doing their best to financially support their kids with essentials, let alone getting them through schooling and other extra activities.

It also helps kids with disabilities who need special help to be successful.

If these teachers are not in school prepared to do the job that tax payers pay them to do all day tomorrow, YOUR FIRED!

You're

"Fire" - or whomever you actually are - try teaching, not threatening. But then you probably don't have kids in school.

Fire not having kids in school is a good thing considering how he spelled "YOUR FIRED"! Fire, try spelling you're.

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