Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, through its Institute for Public Affairs, announced its support for the enactment of a statewide school voucher program in Florida. The Florida legislature is expected to pass the plan today and Governor Jeb Bush, who made school choice a central plank of his election platform, is eager to sign it into law quickly.
Florida’s program will measure the performance of the state’s public schools on an annual basis and give each school a grade, A through F. Students enrolled in schools that receive failing grades will be provided with a voucher of $4000 that they may use to enroll in another public school, a private school or a parochial school.
In a letter to Governor Bush, Orthodox Union president Mandell Ganchrow and IPA director Nathan Diament expressed the support of the Orthodox Jewish community for his initiative. The letter stated that “the Orthodox community is committed to securing greater educational opportunities and empowerment for all American children and that we believe school choice initiatives are a powerful tool to secure this critical goal.”
In anticipation of Florida’s passage of this groundbreaking program, Nathan Diament issued the following statement as well:
Governor Jeb Bush, the members of the Florida legislature, and the voters of Florida are setting an example of leadership and commitment for our country.
There will be those who say this initiative is designed to destroy public education; it is, in fact, designed to rescue children from dysfunctional schools and give them an education and it is designed to foster competition and improve our educational system as a whole.
There will be those who say this initiative is unconstitutional; it is, in fact, constitutional for it does no more than empower the free and independent choices of parents to guide the growth of their children.
There will be those who say this initiative is unjust; it is, in fact, the highest form of social justice – to provide each child with the opportunity for a brighter future.