By Merrill Shapiro
Governor Ron DeSantis has announced the Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative, a $106 million proposal to make Florida a national leader in civics education. The initiative deserves wide support, particularly in light of the abysmal record the governor, the cabinet and the Florida Legislature have with regard to understanding the Constitution of the State of Florida. They really need these proposed courses in Civics.
Article I, Section 3 of our Florida Constitution says, “No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” Yet our legislators and our governor persist in supporting legislation authorizing programs to send nearly $1 billion to private, religious schools in our state.
Senate Bill 48, “Educational Scholarship Programs,” is making its way through the legislature right now and will make more and more families eligible to tap into public dollars to use to attend private, mostly religious schools. Those public dollars come from the pockets of every citizen of our community, every taxpayer in the State of Florida. Yes, it is public money for private, mostly religious, purposes.
Before the pandemic, Florida had 2.7 million students in Kindergarten through 12th grade public schools. That $1 billion spread among 2.7 million students amounts to $370 per student. Before the pandemic, Flagler County schools had nearly 13,000 students. Make these so-called “scholarship” giveaways disappear and that would mean an additional $4.8 million dollars each and every year for Flagler County Schools. Imagine what our school system could do with an additional $4.8 million each and every year!
Article IX, Section 1 of our Florida Constitution says that “the education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education.” Note the words “a uniform” and “system of free public schools.” Our governmental leaders are not, Florida’s Constitution says, to concern themselves with private schools, religious schools, even charter schools. Our leaders are charged, by law, with the creation and maintenance of one system of free public education, so that students in that one system of free public education can obtain a high quality education.
When public schools fail, and they do far less frequently than our legislators seem to feel, the failure is our lawmakers’ failure in bringing to reality “a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida.” It is they who must be held accountable, and it is voters who must hold the feet of those legislators to the fire until they fulfill their constitutionally mandated duties.
The promise of Florida—-and the promise of our system of free public education–lies in our State Constitution. Let’s all work to help our legislature realize that promise.
Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, a long-time Palm Coast resident, is a Past President of the National Board of Trustees of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has served as President of the Richmond, Virginia AU chapter, and chairs the FlaglerLive Board of Directors.
As a Trumplican RonDon has his own Agenda and could care less about any Rules or Regulations never mind a Constitution. Let’s start at the Top. Vote him out and go from there
Love it when liberals cry about “rules and regulations” as their part promotes people coming over our border ILLEGALLY and handing out our tax dollars. Hypocrites… everyone of them.
Bill C says
These people are fleeing the brutal violence caused by drug gangs which exist to supply the drug demand by Americans. It is a measure of how desperate their lives are when they walk 1500 miles taking months to flee their deplorable conditions. Many have had family members murdered. Think about it. It’s not about “rules and regulations” but compassion.
Gimme a break says
And so did the majority of our ancestors except they came here LEGALLY
Bill C says
PS next time you go to church and pray to Jesus, think about it.
I’m not a Liberal and we just witnessed 4 years of hypocrisy. The border has been a disaster thru Bush, Obama, Trump now Biden. They dont promote its what happens over Decades. Get your facts straight. Cry me a river Trump lost get over it.
The Constitution is not anti-immigration …. what Death-Santis is doing is unconstitutional.
fredrick: Alice in Wonderland is fiction
Well We all handed out 151 Million for 45 to play Golf just sayin
jim dana says
We agree – vote him out – we are counting the days.
Mark A says
Agree. And the citizens of Florida must become more vocal and engaged.
And that includes the issues of our County.
Stephen Smith says
I’ve said it before. Taxpayer funds should be spent on PUBLIC schools. Not private or religious. If there is a problem with the quality of education in our schools it should be fixed. Private and religious schools are discrimatory as they can refuse to accept individual or groups of students.
Ronnie D needs a stylist and a primer on how to LEAD. No Rembrandt behind the broken lawn mower at this yard sale.
I believe Ron is doing a great job for the people of Florida. He’s not like all the other Governors that are puppets. He has common sense and if anyone doesn’t like it, why not leave and maybe move to a state like New York where there is a dumb ass for a Governor.
Michael Cocchiola says
Hey, TR, we don’t leave… we fight back through the courts and organizations that understand and follow the constitution. And we already have a dumb-ass governor… Ron DeTrumplicon.
Great article, Merrill. Those of us who oppose using public funds to support private – mostly church-affiliated – schools must put extreme legal and vocal pressure on the governor and legislature to right this wrong.
Ray W. says
TR begins with his opinion that Ron is doing a great job for Florida’s people. While it is nice to support opinions with facts, opinions do not have to be based on facts, so TR starts out on defensible ground. TR shifts into a declaration that all other governors are “puppets”, which is a broad enough statement to include all of the other Republican governors into his category of puppets. By this overly broad declaration, TR begins to lose the argument. TR then offers the idea that our governor has “common sense”, without defining common sense. Here, he runs into real trouble. If common sense is a result, someone else can decide what constitutes common sense and tell us, which is one possible definition of a puppet. If common sense is a process, then each of us will just have to go to the trouble of deciding what constitutes common sense. Frankly, I am not interested in letting TR tell me what constitutes common sense, puppetry be damned. Finally, TR offers his opinion that any who do not agree with his interpretation of Ron’s version of common sense ought to move out of state. I am not convinced that TR understands that the better definition of common sense is that it is a process that everyone can engage in, but he is correct in asserting that moving out of state is an option available to everyone. If, after engaging in the process of determining individualized common sense, enough people decide to vote Ron out of office in 2022, then the losers can start deciding whether they want to move out of state. TR?
Mary Katherine Kelly says
Webster has a picture of RonDon under the definition of puppet
Sorry but that is Biden, look again.
Sorry its Pillsbury doughboy RonDon. Hes a lapdog to 45 and its disgusting. Hes a follower of a hollow failed Idol.
Please explain how the great governor is not a puppet of the former president? What are the great things he has done for florida? Surely you can come up with facts no banal generalities. Please educate me.
If someone doesn’t believe like you do they should leave? Why not put on a train like the big puppet in Flagler County proposed? No if people don’t like Deathsantis common sense they should stay and do their best to replace the puppet, these colors don’t run.
Jason B says
Thank for tossing in your 2 cents worth, if only had been worth anywhere near that. Did you even bother to read the piece? People like you constantly assert that the constitution is sacrosanct, and yet you seem to have no problem with a politician trampling all over it, and just so you know, Governor “Ron” is a puppet, with Mitch and Trump pulling the strings.
Mark A says
OMG ! You can’t be serious.
Sad Times says
My God, TR….Ron is the biggest Trump-puppet of them all! Where have you been….head in the sand?!
I agree with TR, Ron Desantis, or Super Gov, as I like to call him, has found all of the common sense, that all of the politicians lacking common sense have lost. Call me an independentrump. I watched Ron in most of his COVID-19 press conferences and found him sincerely on all of our sides no matter what. He wants Florida to be proud and successful. What’s wrong with that? I know it wasn’t popular in Democrat circles for our past POTUS to strive for the United States of America to be the best in the world, why not? Let’s not try to tear down a potentially great leader, Super Gov, like has been done on the national stage with Trump. I’ve lived here for over thirty years and so far, am proud to be here. There are not many politicians left who use common sense in their decisions. That means the local level politicians as well. I pulling for Palm Coast to be the best in state, Florida to be best in USA, and USA to be the best in the world!!!
God Bless The USA.
We have an enfeebled president and all you see is a governor is doing his best for Florida. Just think we could have had a druggy for our governor.
Best Governor Ever!!!
Charlie Crist says he’s giving ‘Serious Consideration’ to challenging DeSantis for his old job.
Charlie Crist, fake, plastic….. should sit down. He had his chance.
Land 'O Lakes says
I’ve never been a fan of Mr. Butterfingers, ever since … geesh a few years ago. Aside from education, the guy must spend like 1.3 billion on butter alone at his residence, and we can see it – in the fingers, cheeks, waistline – is he trying to be like Kim Jong Un? Is he hoping that’s a sign of royalty and nobility? the dude is a surfer, surfin’ the Trump wave into what he hopes is a nearby presidency. At which, he’ll fail, since he’ll be sick from eating so much butter before his speeches.. At any rate, for no reason should public tax dollars go to private schools. period. the end. No amount of butter should make that slip happen.
Desantis Rocks says
Can’t wait to vote for him again! It’s really sad how the Dems cheer on their ridiculous progressive left while they destroy this once great country. Ron has done a great job keeping Florida open for business, and navigating these difficult times in a sensible manner.
Been munching the orange cheetos ehhh… Yeah until its your Mother Wife Daughter Son whomever drops dead, of course , you might not give a damn. IT is what IT is Pinnochio was a much better puppet
@A putz whom graduated from Yale and Harvard
and monkey’s with everything it touches is not likely to learn anything if it decides otherwise.
desantis is a thin skinned, self serving, blow hard who abuses his position to retaliate against anyone who tells the truth. He’s Archie Bunker goes to the Ivey League, plays baseball and does as he pleases for the rest of his life – having never held other than a goverment job, lived in public housing, and receiving goverment supplied health care everyday of the aforementiond; all while he rails against the working poor for wanting anything resembling the same.
desantis says thanks – suckers.
Art Bowles says
You can make up all you want in your mind,,,,,facts prove he is BEST GOVERNOR EVER!!!!
ALL you wannabe tough guys love a bully right? Figures
I had the unfortunate experience of meeting Ron DeSantis in person. He lived in our community while he represented Flagler County, but before he became Governor. Our community had serious concerns about the new developments being built on either side of our neighborhood. When we reached out to him with our concerns, he could not have cared less about us. He was aloof, distant and unapproachable. During his time in our community, he did not engage with his neighbors, shunned us as a group, and was not well liked. I didn’t vote for him before, and I won’t vote for him in 2022. We need a Governor in 2022 who really cares for Flagler County and Florida at large.
Yes…and he did not keep up his property.
He could have cared less about his neighbors.
Ron DeSantis is an absolute failure who should resign!
Who taught maga to wage an insurrection on their own Capitol? That sure doesn’t seem like “love of country” to any of us,
President Biden wants it where these people before making the trip to the border get registered in their own countries before heading here. Give him a chance to resolve an ongoing problem that didn’t just start when he got into office.
As far as DeSantis I find it very strange for a Governor of a State when we are witnessing the spring breakers migrate to Miami and he hasn’t said one word or even tried to help the Mayor to assist them. What kind of Governor is that? He took his lessons from #45 and how he handed the Covid virus, just ignore the problem and maybe it will disappear on its own.
Please let’s have a better candidate for Governor to run in this next election and I don’t care what party they are with just not DeSantis who is totally useless.
But you’re ok with the puppet in the Whitehouse spending almost 90 million dollars ( so far ) on the border jumpers . Liberals….SMH
45 spent 151 million playing GOLF genius
Hopefully when the FBI wraps up the investigation of one of our County Commissioner’s they will move on an investigate DeSantis?
Just a thought says
Every one here who has praised Desantis and bashed liberals have not said one thing about the articulate and the trampling of the state constitution. Is it ok for republicans to ignore the constitution?