Agudath Israel: Florida Lawsuit Jeopardizes Education of Thousands of Scholarship Students


agudahAgudath Israel of America expressed its profound disappointment at the decision of the Florida Education Association and others to challenge the state’s Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program in court. The statewide teachers union, together with the Florida School Boards Association, Florida PTA, and others announced today that they are joining together to deny low-income children the opportunity to attend the school of their choice.

Speaking at a press conference in Tallahassee this morning, Agudath Israel of Florida director Rabbi Moshe Matz said, “a lawsuit, filed just days before the beginning of the school year is nothing more than a shameful attempt to scare parents away from exercising their right to choose the school that best meets their child’s needs. This program should be lauded for giving educational opportunities to low-income children and expanded, not litigated.”

The scholarship program, enacted in 2001, is funded through corporate donations. Corporations are awarded dollar-for-dollar state tax credits for those contributions. Administered by Step Up for Students, the program has awarded nearly 400,000 scholarships since 2002 and is poised to serve approximately 67,000 low-income children this year, including more than 1,000 students choosing Jewish schools across Florida.

” We hope the courts will dismiss this ill-advised lawsuit” said executive vice president of Agudath Israel, Rabbi David Zwiebel, Esq., “and affirm the right of parents to choose the learning environment that best suits their child.”

Agudath Israel’s Florida office has been a longtime advocate for the scholarship program and will continue to do everything it can to ensure that thousands of low-income children retain their scholarships. Florida residents who wish to receive email updates on this important issue should contact [email protected] .

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  1. The lawsuit will likely succeed. Florida has a Blaine Amendment prohibiting government support for religious schools, and an attempt to repeal it in 2012 got only 45% of the vote in a referendum. (A 60% vote was needed.)

  2. “We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” –Louis Brandeis.

  3. The court could prohibit the use of funds for religious school students, while permitting it for secular private school students. There would be no “Blaine amendment” objection to that, and it would still be a much-deserved slap in the face to the teachers unions.