FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 1, 2017

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Shelby Hobbs

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Policy Brief Calls for Universal Scholarships

to Honor Mary McLeod Bethune

~ JMI says educator’s legacy points the way for expanded opportunities for every child ~

TALLAHASSEE – With her commitment to universal access to education, diversity, and resourcefulness, legendary educator Mary McLeod Bethune is the right choice to honor with a universal K-12 scholarship program expanding opportunities for every Florida student, finds a new policy brief issued today by The James Madison Institute (JMI). The policy brief is entitled, “Let’s Honor Bethune with a New K-12 Scholarship Program.”

The policy brief calls for the creation of a universal K-12 scholarship program named after the historic Florida educator. The study brings to light the educational principles articulated by Bethune and how they underscore the need for a scholarship program that allows every Florida parent, regardless of race or family income, to individually help their children receive the education best suited to their learning abilities and needs.

“Adopting a Bethune Scholarship would give every Florida child a K-12 education tailored to meet his or her unique needs. It would pay tribute to a courageous Florida educator and carry forward her faith-informed belief in each child’s unique worth and dignity. More than anything, adopting a Bethune Scholarship would ensure that every child in the state of Florida – every child – has the opportunity to receive a K-12 education tailored to his or her unique needs, interests, aptitudes, and learning style,” concludes the policy brief, authored by William Mattox, director of JMI’s J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options.

JMI has long supported choice in education. Bethune, a renowned educator and civil rights activist who founded what is now Bethune-Cookman University, was a leading advocate for universal access to education at a time when separate educational institutions prevented minority students from receiving equal opportunity.

“Rather than perpetuating uniformity in K-12 schooling, policymakers should give all parents access to a Bethune Scholarship that allows them to find the learning option – or combination of options – that most closely meets their child’s needs and their family’s preferences,” said Dr. Bob McClure, CEO and president of The James Madison Institute.

Citing Bethune’s commitment to rewarding resourcefulness, the policy brief argues that the American public education system is doing a poor job of maximizing value. This disparity does not come from inefficient public school officials, it argues, but rather from the fact that a one-size-fits-all approach wastes funds on students who do not thrive in a traditional public school environment. The proposed Bethune Scholarship would help remedy this by allowing parents to utilize scholarship funds in a way tailored to the needs of their individual learners.

The policy brief is available at https://www.jamesmadison.org/publications/detail/bethune-policy-brief.

The James Madison Institute is Florida’s premier free-market think tank. JMI conducts research on such issues as health care, taxes, and regulatory environments. Founded in 1987, JMI is one of the nation’s oldest and largest 501(c)3 nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational organizations.

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