There has been a hot debate in America over the years on how the quality of education can be improved. This, therefore, led to the introduction of school vouchers, which became popular and sounded to be a solution to the degrading standards of education in recent years (Peterson, 2003). The proponents of this idea claimed that this would improve the existing public schools by ensuring that they are in a position to compete effectively with other public and privately owned schools. The first school voucher was introduced by Winconsin in 1990, and several states, in turn, embraced the same with a great hope that this would rescue the situation witnessed in most of the public schools, which had been failing.
In 1999, the legislature in Florida endorsed the first national voucher program in the form of the Opportunity Scholarship Programme. The Programme was followed by critics and other challenges becoming the focus of the public and was challenged a number of times in law courts by those who opposed it. The Opportunity Scholarship Programme was aimed at allowing students in the struggling schools to receive a voucher or some funding that gave them permission to attend neighboring schools or any participating private school. Unfortunately, the program was really challenged by the AU and its education and civil rights groups in state court in 1999, claiming that this program was breaching the federal and state constitutions, culminating in the Florida Supreme Court Case of Bush v. Holmes (Berends, 2009). Following alleges in the court of Florida, the court decided that the state voucher Program was invalid, something that Governor Bush refered to as “a blow to educational reform.” This issue became more controversial when the United States Supreme Court issued a declaration that referred the decision by the Florida Supreme Court as invalid. Consequently, this meant that school voucher programs were not prohibited by the constitution – an issue that left many parents and students in a confusion over the choice of schools in the State of Florida.
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This case has withstood the test of time, especially when considering the decision issued by the Florida Supreme Court (Laycock, 2010). The court makes its ruling according to the constitution without caring about whoever implemented it and positions of power and authority. In addition, the opponents of the program decide to challenge a decision issued by the government through the Governor, which is a bold step that can be emulated in our time. This is unlike most of our countries, whereby the judicial systems are controlled by the governments and influence any decision made in the law courts. The case also proves to have withstood the test of time in the way the court does not issue a decision in favor of the government, as many would have done to comply to the wishes of the government whether good or bad. Likewise, this is a challenge to our judicial systems which have in most cases given rulings in favor of some affluent individuals in the society as we have witnessed rampant corruption in the recent days. This accountability and transparency of a high degree that is embraced can ensure a just society and remove the various forms of injustice we have witnessed of late (Bolick, 2003).
The above case is of great relevance to the society, if viewed with an open mind by the members of the society, because it has a lot of validity. This is evident in the various ways discussed below. Firstly, the ruling made by the Supreme Court of Florida had a number of truths that were supported by the constitution (Laycock, 2010). For example, it was against the constitution to have programs supported by the government, which do not support equality and uniformity in the society. The Opportunity Scholarship Programme was noted by the court to be doing nothing in establishing uniformity in the state schools, since it was giving money to private schools. These private schools cannot be compared to the public schools in terms of facilities, standards and performance. The privately owned schools have better materials, different curriculum and the teachers employed do not need to have the same qualifications as those in public schools. In addition, the Opportunity Scholarship Programme fails to promote the culture of offering high quality education in public schools since it aims at maintaining such categories of schools and nothing substantial in making them better (Berends, 2009). Moreover, the Opportunity Scholarship Programme was noted to be reducing amount of money that could be channeled to the ”failing” schools to improve their facilities and help them become better. Therefore, it is evident that this was breaching the constitution by increasing the gap between private and public schools – a lesson of relevance to the community today (Peterson, 2003).
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The American constitution does not allow the Legislature to use government’s money to fund any organization in the private sector. In this case, the Opportunity Scholarship Programme was violating the constitution by transferring money from the treasury to some special private accounts in the name of the school voucher program (Nata, 2003). In addition, the Florida constitution has the “no aid” provision which states that “no revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be from the public treasury directly or even indirectly in aid of any sectarian institution.” This provision had been broken by allowing public money to be given to private schools sponsored by religious entities in Florida. This is relevant today since this act of injustice burdens the taxpayers. It is also important to learn from the above case that every government, state or individual needs to have respect for constitution because this ensures equality in the society.
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In conclusion, this case has diverse lessons which every member of the today’s society can learn and lead to positive impartation in his or her life. In addition, it also challenges our judicial systems and governments to aim at having transparency and accountability, which can liberate society from all forms of injustice. Therefore, this case is still relevant today.
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