Editor’s note: This piece from William Mattox, director of the J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options at the James Madison Institute, appeared Monday on Florida Politics.

A funny thing happened last fall while many governors were yielding to teacher union demands to keep schools closed: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis not only found that it was safe to open schools, but that education policy could be a magnet for attracting new residents to the Sunshine State.

In recent months, DeSantis has often recounted stories of meeting families who moved to Florida because our schools are open.  And while some may think this migration will end once schools are open everywhere, the truth is Florida could easily become our nation’s unrivaled “education destination” (to borrow House Education Committee Chairman Chris Latvala’s fabulous phrase).

Here’s why: in the “new normal,” the number of “digital nomads” (who work remotely and can move anywhere) is going to rise. COVID-19 has taught many companies that they can achieve greater efficiencies by facilitating remote work.

Accordingly, Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Julio Fuentes believes state and local business leaders ought to give new emphasis to recruiting remote workers – not just corporations – to relocate here. And Fuentes believes Florida’s school choice policies could be the key to luring education-minded parents (and their talented offspring) to our state.

Two bits of data strongly support this idea.  First, research by real estate professor Bart Danielsen of North Carolina State University shows that the single greatest factor driving families’ relocation decisions is access to good education options. Second, polling data from EdChoice suggests there is considerable “pent-up demand” for wider schooling options throughout the country.  In fact, roughly half of all parents say that if cost were not a factor, they would homeschool, send their child to a private school, or take advantage of some other creative arrangement (like pod learning).

To read more, and to better understand the importance of new legislation that would streamline Florida’s choice scholarship programs, click here.

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