Derrell Bradford, executive director of the New Jersey-based Excellent Education for Everyone (E3) and possibly the hippest education reformer in America, told a National Summit audience Tuesday that there are only two ways to get your child in a school: You choose one, or your ZIP code chooses one for you. That formulation is the basis for radical change in this nation’s education landscape, and, on that measure, Florida is more than just host to this educational gathering. Its parents are choosing their child’s school at a rate that makes you stand up and take notice.
Roughly one of every three public schoolchildren in Florida now attend a school other than the one tied to their ZIP code. Take a look at the 2009-10 enrollment numbers associated with a dozen different options and remember that most of them didn’t even exist a generation ago.
315,173 use “open enrollment” to go to most any school in their district
225,081 attend fundamental schools, career options, academic and special programs
137,196 attend charter schools
124,278 choose private prekindergarten schools
106,985 attend career and professional academies
97,182 take online courses from Florida Virtual School
62,567 receive schooling at home
35,323 take dual enrollment courses at a community college or university
28,927 low-income students attend private schools on a Tax Credit Scholarship
20,926 disabled students attend private schools on a McKay Scholarship
18,549 transfer out of schools that state or federal guidelines deem as failing
10,675 attend International Baccalaureate schools
Here’s the pop quiz: Which of these options are public and which are private? And now the bonus question: Does it really matter?