Florida Republicans never miss a chance to pivot and politicize a crisis. With Florida’s COVID numbers reaching the stratosphere, and the state becoming the epicenter of a global pandemic, Florida Republicans have a solution- VOUCHERS!
With Broward County joining Duval, Alachua and probably Leon (with more to come) as school districts requiring masks for students, the Florida Board of Education appears poised to approve vouchers for parents who don’t want to send their kids to public schools where masks are required. This plan is reminiscent of the voucher proposal in Virginia in the 1959 where white parents were given public funds to send their kids to a segregated private school and avoid potentially desegregated schools – in fact in Prince Edward County VA the public school system was closed.
This scheme by Florida Republicans seems similar. Having demagogued the mask issue (which I have now come to realize includes an element of racial polarization) Republicans now are going to similarly reward those who want to avoid mask-wearing by giving them PUBLIC FUNDS to attend PRIVATE SCHOOLS, leaving the public schools with less funding and probably, let’s be honest about this, fewer white students (A recent St Pete Polls survey done indicates far greater support for mask-wearing in school among African-Americans than among whites).
We know most GOP lawmakers and appointees don’t care about teachers or those who work in schools such as custodians and others, but we did think perhaps they cared about the welfare of children. But evidently not. What matters to them now is that they use this opportunity to further the advancement of vouchers
This COVID “solution” checks many boxes with the Republicans:
1- Weaken the Teacher unions
2- Redirect funds that go to public education to private schools
3- Reward GOP voters whose opposition to mask-wearing has contributed to Florida becoming the global COVID epicenter
4- Create a more segregated public school system
5- Get more (white) kids into private schools where they can continue teaching myths about American history
6- Maintain low educational standards in publicly-funded parochial and private institutions to keep churning out GOP voters.
With all of this in mind, it should not shock anyone, this is the new solution to masking and COVID offered by Florida’s GOP leaders.