I could not help thinking of the old addage "With friends like these, who needs enemies" in reading about the Florida Supreme Court's decision today to deny public funds for private school vouchers. The Miami Herald today reported: "The Florida Supreme Court threw out the state's voucher system that allows some children to attend private schools at taxpayer expense, saying Thursday that it violates the state constitution's requirement of a uniform system of free public schools." Sounds good does it not. But there is one problem with this. If there existed a uniform system of free public schools there would be no need for vouchers. The whole reason the voucher issue is an issue, is that there is a great disparity in the quality of schools in the public school system in Florida and frankly nationwide.
As I read I could not help thinking how incredibly ignorant the anti-voucher arguments sounded. I could not help thinking, "are these people really this ignorant or just blatantly deceptive?" Here are a few examples.
"The ruling was a victory for public schools across the state and nation, said Ron Meyer, lead attorney for a coalition, including a statewide teachers union, that challenged the voucher program.
It means that Florida's taxpayers will not be forced to pay for schools which are unaccountable," Meyer said.
Here the lawyer for the teacher's unions is claiming victory for the schools. No mention about the students or parents whose kids are held as slaves to that system. He then says that tax money will not pay for unaccountable schools. Are you kidding me? That is exactly what has been happening and will now continue to happen. These public schools, free from competition with private schools, will feel no need to be accountable to anyone except the teacher unions. That is how we got to where we are today.
Interestingly, although 700 children from poor, and mostly black, failing schools will be forced back onto the "plantation," on constitutional grounds, the decision does not affect over 30,000 other voucher programs for poor and disabled students. Now my inquisitive mind asks why one program can be unconstitutional while another is not? I will give you a hint. The vouchers in this case allow children to go to schools where they may hear God mentioned.
In the end, this sounds too much like decisions handed down by Democratic Party controlled courts in pre-emancipation days and under Jim Crow. It is the exact same type of thinking, if one can call it thinking. I can also hear the New Uncle Toms chiming in on the side of this decision to keep these children and their parents on the plantation. The real question is, will these families and others like them remain silent or will they rise up. I certainly hope they choose to not remain silent, and that we will sit, walk and stand with them in this struggle.