Black And Hispanic Business Leaders Support School Choice

The Tallahassee Democrat writes:

The Florida Black Chamber of Commerce and the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce support these programs because they empower traditionally underserved, low-income minority parents to provide a high-quality education for their children, and because they promote improvements in public school performance for all children, especially minority children….

As the economy continues to shift from physical labor needs to knowledge and expertise needs, our children’s future is increasingly dependent on the quality of education they receive.

Unfortunately, many minority and low-income parents underserved by public schools cannot afford to enroll their children in a school that better meets their needs. Their children are sentenced to limited opportunities for employment and little chance for a better life.

School choice in general and Opportunity Scholarships in particular provide effective solutions to some of the challenging problems facing minority and low-income families in Florida.

School choice is not about public vs. private or religious vs. secular. It is most fundamentally about empowering minority and low-income parents to provide a high-quality education for their children. It’s about leveling the playing field for people of lesser financial means, but high aspirations.

School choice programs are tools for the improvement of all forms of education – public and private, religious and secular – and have been proven to increase the performance of public education.

In 2003, a U.S. school choice and school competition study by Harvard University economist Caroline Hoxby concluded that “Public schools do respond constructively to competition, by raising their achievement and productivity.” It found that “Students’ achievement generally does rise when they attend voucher or charter schools.”

Also in 2003, a Florida A+ Opportunity Scholarship program study by Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Jay Greene showed that “low-performing schools facing a greater degree of threat from voucher competition made better improvements than low-performing schools facing a lesser degree of threat from vouchers.”

Moreover, the study found that most of Florida’s voucher students were poor and minorities. It would be most unfortunate for our communities if the Florida Supreme Court rules against proven tools that will ultimately enable our children to achieve a higher standard of living and our state a more prosperous economy.

The article was written by Ed Rodriguez, chairman of the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce and Julio Fuentes, president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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