Rick Scott: With Expanded Voucher Program, "Public Schools Will Just Simply Get Better"

December 13, 2010 12:53 pm ET — Kate Conway

As a businessman, Gov.-elect Rick Scott (R-FL) should know that taking away funding from something doesn't usually spur its vast improvement. Yet that's just what he claims will happen with Florida's public schools under his radical education plan.

Appearing on Fox News on Sunday, Scott defended his education reform proposal, which would allow a portion of the per-child state money spent on public education to follow each student to a school of their parents' choosing. "You as a parent, you know better what a child — your child needs than anybody else, more than any bureaucrat," said Scott. "So you should be able to send the child to a school whatever you want to go to. A public school, a charter school, any private school."

This could leave public schools in the lurch, a reality that the governor-elect firmly denies. Instead, Scott claims that when money is diverted from public schools, they "will just simply get better" and the schools that want to "thrive" will "make sure their teachers get paid the best."

WALLACE: And what happens to public schools, I mean, if the money is basically going to the child rather than to the school, don't you run the risk everybody is going to end up going to private schools or other special kinds of schools, and the public schools are —

SCOTT: No. Absolutely not. Chris, absolutely not. Our public schools will just simply get better. Look, in any other-in anything else competition makes people better. This will do the same thing. If parents have the right to choose, the schools that want to continue to thrive, they'll pick — they'll get better. They'll have better, you know, their teachers, they'll have the best teachers, they'll make sure their teachers get paid the best. No, public schools will thrive with this. It will be way better for our public schools, and way better for our teachers, and way better for our students.

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With funding drained from public schools, it's unclear how school boards will be able to pay teachers competitive salaries in an effort to attract top-notch educators, or how Scott expects them to "just simply get better." Then again, Scott has had trouble thinking plans all the way through before.  

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