Proposed Amendment Stirs School Voucher Debate

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Floridians on both sides of the debate over Amendment 8 find themselves uttering a word that has no place in the ballot measure: vouchers.

Opponents of the amendment claim it’s a thinly-veiled attempt to reignite the fight to establish a voucher program for private schools. Proponents find themselves repeatedly refuting such arguments, saying it’s about religious freedom.

Backers say the proposed change to the state constitution grew out of a lawsuit in which a prison program run by a religious group was targeted. That suit hasn’t been successful yet, but the Catholic Church and other denominations says it poses a threat to a bevy of publicly-funded secular social programs run by religious groups.

An eclectic group of opponents includes the teachers union, League of Women Voters and church-state separation advocates.