Voucher Accountability

The goal is to make sure taxpayers are getting a good bang for their bucks and children are getting a good education. Myra Carlson's two daughters go to Trinity Catholic School, one of hundreds of religious schools across the state that accept state vouchers from former public school students. Carlson says she liked the emphasis on academics.

“They're able to discipline the children and therefore you can control the learning environment where your children can focus on learning and not have to deal with all of the other aspects that can happen in a public school,” said Myra Carlson.

But about ten percent of the private schools taking state vouchers have not filed the paperwork showing they meet requirements for the money. Critics include Florida congressman and class size author Kendrick Meek.

“We do have fly-by-night programs, store front programs that are not educating these children, that are taking the money and then giving the whole voucher effort a bad name in the state of Florida,” said Kendrick Meek.

But now the state's catholic schools are calling for greater accountability on how the state's voucher dollars are spent. The position is opposite the majority of private schools, which have resisted state oversight.

Larry Keough of the state catholic conference says the focus should be on the kids.

“When these children obtain scholarships they ought to be in a better educational environment than where they came from and I think the state of where we are now in the choice arena, unfortunately, some of these kids are not better off,” Larry Keough said.

The state says it has already started requiring accountability from private schools, but look for increased pressure this spring for lawmakers to tighten the rules even further and cut off schools that don't comply.

The State Department of Education and the McKay Scholarship Task Force are working on two separate bills that would tighten eligibility rules for state vouchers.