Controversial Fla. school vouchers in jeopardy

Posted at 6:50 AM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 07:36:13-05

About 100 students, parents and teachers left Tampa Bay Christian Academy on Tuesday morning to join thousands of others expected to gather for a rally in Florida's capitol.

The rally in Tallahassee is in support of a controversial scholarship program that awards tax credits to low-income families in Florida to help them afford private Christian schools in the state. The 15-year-old program works like a voucher system and is used by nearly 80,000 Florida students in 2016.

The event at Florida's Capitol was organized by the "Save Our Scholarships Coalition" which is made up of "pro--choice" education groups pushing for a less-localized and less-monitored education system. The keynote speak of Tuesday's rally is Martin Luther King III, son of the famous civil rights leader who was honored yesterday on a federal holiday.

Florida Voices for Choices is organizing schools in Tampa to make the trip to Tallahassee. The group tells ABC Action News that about 30 schools across the Bay area are sending parents and kids to the capital. About 10,000 people are expected to meet at the Civic Center in Tallahassee and then march to the Capitol.

Florida offers what they call "dollar-for-dollar" tax credits to businesses that contribute to a state-approved non-profit scholarship fund; in Tampa the the organization is the A.A.A. Scholarship Foundation.

The Teachers Education Association, Florida's largest teachers union, opposes the program, and is suing to have it end, on the grounds that it takes too much money from the public education system in the state, preventing the state from offering a quality education for Florida kids, as is mandated in the Constitution.

The majority of the recipients of the money are from the Miami-Dade County.