February 21, 2010

A closer look at HB 1009 (proposed expansion of Florida corporate tax-credit vouchers)

On Wednesday, I discussed my first reaction to news of Florida House Bill 1009, which I thought had some eye-popping proposals, and I posted Jon East's response. I've had a chance to look at the text of the bill, and there are some details hidden in there that are interesting.

  • The reporting of test scores for schools with 30 voucher students isn't for 30 vouchers students in any year but for those with at least 30 students who continue from year to year. That dramatically shrinks the number of schools that would have scores reported, and they would only be reported for continuing students, in contrast with public schools that report status test scores (which are part of the Florida system of labeling schools) as well as Florida's jerry-built "learning gains" measure.
  • The financial reporting requirements in the bill is only for schools taking vouchers worth a total of $250,000 per year. Let's assume that at some point FEFP funding per weighted student is $8000, and the 80% voucher is $6400. That would be about 39 students as the threshhold for the financial requirements. At the current voucher level the threshhold is 64 students. I suspect the financial reporting requirement would affect a tiny fraction of the schools accepting vouchers.

One other thought: if this bill passes, then the other large voucher program (for students with disabilities) will remain without any accountability for student outcomes. That's a huge question mark in terms not only of constitutionality but also state compliance with federal special education law. How are state assurances on providing a free appropriate public education affected when state general revenues flow through vouchers, either directly (as in the case of the disability-related voucher program) or indirectly (through the corporate tax-credit voucher program)?

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Posted in Education policy on February 21, 2010 3:30 PM |