The Fight for 70,000

By Paul Dauphin
Supporters of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship are asking why opponents of the program want to evict 70,000 low-income children from schools chosen by their parents.
A year ago several groups, including the Florida Education Association, League of Women Voters, Florida School Boards Association filed a lawsuit arguing the tax credit scholarship program was unconstitutional. In May, a Florida court threw out the case, finding the plaintiffs had no legal standing to bring the case against the country’s largest private school choice program.
Despite the court’s ruling and the withdrawal from the suit by the Florida School Boards Association, the program’s opponents have appealed the ruling.
“We’re looking at these children. We see the positive impact of the scholarships, affording parents the opportunity to put their children in a place to succeed,” said Bishop Victor T. Curry of the New Birth Baptist Church in Miami, which includes the Dr. John A. McKinney Christian Academy.
Bishop Curry recently discussed the status of the lawsuit with supporters of the tax credit scholarship program on Miami’s WMBM-AM.
The program, administered by Step Up For Students, provides tax credit scholarships to students in K-12 who come from low-income families.
“I do not understand why we have organizations suing this tax credit program when it’s helping so many of our children who probably would be failing if it were not for the fact they were able to get into a school that is willing to work with them, nurture them and educate them in an environment that is conducive to learning.”
One such student is Denisha Merriweather, who told listeners how she hated school, transferred from one public school to another and failed the third grade twice.
With a scholarship in hand, Merriweather enrolled in Esprit de Corps Center for Learning in Jacksonville. “Esprit de Corps changed my life and it’s because my godmother had the assistance from the Step Up For Students scholarship,” said Merriweather.
Merriweather is a graduate of the University of West Florida with an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary social science. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in social work at the University of South Florida.


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