Give Us Liberty… or Send Your Kids to Public School

Back in January, the Florida Supreme Court struck down that state’s “Opportunity Scholarships” school voucher program. I discussed their bizarre léger-de-loi here, and called for a state constitutional amendment to correct it here.

After the amendment effort failed in the State Senate, some Floridians have decided to take matters into their own hands, circulating a petition to guarantee universal school vouchers.

While their exact policy prescription differs from what I’d suggest, it has a delightful little catch: “If the Amendment is not passed, all elected officials and schoolteachers must send their children to public schools.”

That would run afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1925 Pierce v. Society of Sisters ruling guaranteeing parents the right to private schooling (assuming they can afford it), but rhetorically, it’s a pretty good point. Today, the only folks who have school choice are the wealthy, who can either choose a different school district by moving, or choose an independent school by paying tuition.

The poor, by contrast, are generally condemned to the public school to which they are assigned by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen. How is this supposedly uniform system of public schooling working out for them?

America has the largest achievement gap between wealthy and poor students of any industrialized country in the world.

The only way that will change is if we extend choice to all families, regardless of income.