Another facet of privatization includes funneling tax dollars into private schools through the use of vouchers, also known as scholarships or savings accounts.
A voucher is a certificate that a student can use that will allow them to receive the amount of funding the per-student funding provided to public schools by the state to pay for a portion of their private school tuition. Vouchers can also pay for other education-related expenses such as tutoring or home education in some cases. Vouchers currently provided in Florida include the McKay Scholarship,the Gardiner Scholarship and the tax credit scholarship (which derives funds from corporate taxes and insurance premiums.
The newest privatization initiative is referred to as the Hope Scholarship. Funds are derived from sales tax of motor vehicles, and are used for private school scholarships. Students can apply if they claim to have been a victim of bullying or violence in a public school.
While vouchers can, in some cases, assist students with getting their needs met, there are many problems with Florida’s current voucher system:
- Public School Funding Drains
Similar to charter schools, vouchers drain funds from public schools. As the student leaves the school and the state funding follows the student, the costs at the original public school do not decrease.
- Lack of Accountability
There are very little regulations for private schools that accept publicly funded vouchers, which means there is no guarantee that the funds will be used in the way they are intended. The eligibility process also leaves room for error, providing no guarantee that the funds are going to students who qualify. The lack of private school regulations leaves no guarantee that the schools are high quality.
- Selective Admissions
Private schools develop their own admissions criteria and are not required to accept every student. The receipt of a voucher does not guarantee that a student will be admitted to a private school.