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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

Culture War Hits Home

Private schools are suspended from voucher programs for “Communist” ties

   The politicization of education in Florida has become an issue of importance after the temporary AP Psychology ban and continuous book bannings. Though previously thought to be confined to public schools, politics has invaded private education as well. On Sept. 22, Governor DeSantis and his administration suspended school-choice scholarships to two local private schools, Parke House Academy, and Park Maitland School due to supposed ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

   Enacted earlier this year, the suspended voucher programs provided grants ranging from $8,000-$10,000 to Florida students wanting to attend certain private schools. Almost 320 Park Maitland students, per the scholarship program Step Up, had their scholarships abruptly revoked, resulting in families losing thousands of dollars. This decision is part of DeSantis’ larger agenda of reshaping education in Florida for both public and private schools. 

   “The Chinese Communist Party is not welcome in the state of Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in a statement. “We will not put up with any attempt to influence students with a communist ideology or allow Floridians’ tax dollars to go to schools that are connected to our foreign adversaries.” 

   Governor DeSantis’ accusation of CCP ties is because all of the targeted schools are owned by the Spring Education Group, a for-profit private school company. The organization is majority controlled by Primavera Holdings Limited, an investment firm based in Hong Kong that operates in China, the United States and Singapore. It has a network of 220 private schools across 19 U.S. states and Asia. They also own the prestigious educational resource The Princeton Review. There is still no evidence of a relationship between the school and the CCP.

   “We have a long-standing, 55-year history in Winter Park of providing outstanding educational outcomes to our community, and appreciate the community’s enduring partnership,” Park Maitland Head of School Michael Anna wrote in a statement. “We are proud of the work that our teachers and staff do every day to educate our students.”

   While DeSantis’ rhetoric is alarming, investment groups have been buying private schools for years.  Park Maitland is widely regarded as one of the best primary schools in the Orlando area with an A+ rating from the school ranking site Niche. 

   “We are regularly acknowledged as one of the best private schools in our area and have a track record of delivering outstanding educational outcomes, which is why parents choose us,” Mellesia Nelson, a spokesperson for Park Maitland and the Sagemont Prep schools said in a statement. “Our schools are locally run, abide by local, state and federal laws, and do not have ties to any government or political party, either foreign or domestic.”

   Park Maitland also acts as a feeder school to Trinity among other local middle and high schools. With a significant number of Saints being Park Maitland alumni, DeSantis’ unsubstantiated claim is an issue near and dear to the hearts of many Trinity families.

   “The teachers care about ensuring that we get a good education,” Trinity student and Park Maitland alum Ashwin Anand said. “They care that we’re able to see all different perspectives of any sort of issue without forcing us to view it from a particular perspective.”

   The politicization of education has turned into a conservative witch hunt to weed out Communist ties that do not exist. The vouchers were ripped from the fingertips of hopeful families, and thrown into a sea of uncertainty that flows back to a single source, the state’s current administration. 

   “Accusing one of our best private schools of having ties to CCP is irresponsible,” Florida State House Representative Anna Eskamani said. “It is politically motivated and it’s damaging to all kids who call this school their home.”

   Governor DeSantis’ statements have real implications for families who have been given three options by the Florida Department of Education: transfer to a different private school, transfer to a public school or pay tuition out of pocket without scholarship funds. Students have lost their scholarships and are unsure of their educational future. This uncertainty has serious ramifications for the schools, families and most importantly, the students.

   “We’ve had a lot of folks communicate with us, expressing dismay, expressing stress, expressing fear, and just not knowing what to do,” Eskamani said.

   None of the schools that were suspended from the program received notice or contact from the DeSantis administration regarding the decision. Even now, the state’s office is not supplying public officials with the contents of their investigation. If there is one thing that is clear and evident, these schools are not Communist but just a prop for a politician’s agenda. 

   “[Governor DeSantis] is not interested in governing, [he’s] just interested in politics,” Eskamani said. 

   The suspension of scholarships serves as a wake-up call to all parents, families and faculty who thought they were safe in private schools. This is an unrelenting war on education. A war we must win.  

   The lead editorial expresses the opinion of the Trinity Voice editorial staff. Please send comments to [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Nikhil Daniel, Staff Writer
Nikhil Daniel is a sophomore entering his first year on staff as a writer for the opinions department. When Nikhil is not debating, he likes to play chess, listen to Drake, and binge-watch "Suits". Contact him at [email protected].

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