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Florida's Largest Teachers Union Claims Vouchers Will Hit Public Schools Hard

The Duval County Public Schools headquarters building is located on Jacksonville's Southbank.
The Duval County Public Schools headquarters building is located on Jacksonville's Southbank.

The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, is predicting Florida’s newly passed private school voucher program will cost Duval County public schools nearly $72 million over five years.

FEA President Fedrick Ingram called it a travesty Thursday.

He said it’s the children who’ll pay the price. “What that means is the potential loss of band programs; the potential loss of art programs of science labs that we cannot either afford or there will be conscious decisions not to do certain things or implement certain programs.”

Ingram said if the state’s going to use taxpayer money to send kids to private schools, then it needs to hold them to the same standards as public ones.

“Make every private school that is taking voucher money, make them have certified teachers and qualified teachers, pursuant to the same regulations that we in the public sector must have.”

The organization’s number crunchers believe an expanded use of vouchers will drain more than $986 million from Florida’s public schools over the next five years.

The FEA based its analysis on its expectation that the current cap on the empowerment voucher will increase through future legislation. The union also cited the current track record of Florida’s voucher in making its predictions.

The FEA will hold a statewide education summit in Orlando on Saturday to talk about the problems vouchers pose to public education and how to fix them.

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter at @cydwjctnews.

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