69,000 pieces of just flat wrong

To allegedly help parents understand Amendment 8, one of Florida’s biggest school districts has distributed 69,000 fliers, punctuated by scary claims, in all of its school lobbies and reception areas. “VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6,” they say. “Amendment 8 could impact your public school.”

The Orange County school district tells redefinED the fliers don’t cross the line into advocacy because they’re for informational purposes and state, at the top, “IT’S YOUR DECISION.” But the fliers are filled with the same misinformation being spread far and wide by the Florida Education Association, Florida School Boards Association and Fund Education Now – and left unchallenged by Florida journalists.

“If Amendment 8 passes, potentially billions of state dollars could be diverted from public schools,” the flier says. “If Amendment 8 passes, public funds could be redirected into private hands by funding the education of hundreds of thousands of students in private and religious schools.”

Not true. We’ve detailed why here and here. Amendment 8 would remove the no-aid to religion language in the Florida Constitution, which is a proposition that deserves debate. But to suggest it opens the door to private school vouchers is more than a stretch; it’s wrong. Like the same claims made at school board meetings and in press releases, the ones on the district fliers don’t offer any supporting evidence – and, as far as we can tell, no reporters have asked for any. In Florida, truth continues to go off the rails.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at rmatus@stepupforstudents.org or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at facebook.com/redefinedonline.


David Williamson

Government support of religion IS scary. As clear and strong as the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is, it has been watered down by the religious right’s millions of dollars in legal funding in the last 30 years.

We need to keep the Florida Constitution as is to keep church and state separate and to protect religious minorities. Why are there only Christians arguing in favor of this ballot measure? Look up the ‘tyranny of the majority’ if you don’t have an answer to that.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

What part of this do you not understand? Don’t you realize that a biased, Christian majority of local and state officials will get to decide how to spend the tax money which, by the way, churches don’t even pay into in the first place?

Hi David, thanks so much for reading redefinED and thanks for taking time out to write. To be clear, we have taken no position on Amendment 8 (other than to say it’s an issue worthy of fair debate.) The only reason we’re writing about it is because the leading opponents of Amendment 8 insist it’s really about private school vouchers, even though the legal landscape in Florida shows that’s really not the case. Since we’ve gone into detail about our position before, I’ll include some of the links here rather than repeat it all again:




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