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Florida Gov. DeSantis vows to end Gardiner waitlist

JACKSONVILLE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday promised to eliminate the wait list for children who have qualified for a state-funded scholarship for students with special needs. DeSantis, flanked by First Lady Casey DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, visited the North Florida School of Special Education where he addressed parents of students awaiting a Gardiner Scholarship, the nation’s largest education savings account program, as well as those families who have benefited from it. “In the budget just released, I’ve allocated enough money to get rid of the waitlist for the Gardiner Scholarship entirely,” DeSantis told the crowd of...

National School Choice Week: A chance to advance equality and opportunity

When The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 2001, I was in the subset of viewers who had not read J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. Yes, right, I know: Nerd demerit! It proved beneficial as a movie-going experience, as it shocked me: Wait, what? Sarumon is a bad guy?? The Gandalf vs. Saruman fight scene comes to mind when I see choice supporters who say they “support choice,” but only a particular type of choice. David Osborne’s piece in The 74 is a recent example of this genre. Osborne obviously is a sincere gentleman, but the scale of our challenges lies...
school choice

Doug Tuthill: Wishes for a better future

  Here are some education choice stocking stuffers that would please me this holiday season. Over the years, we have tried and failed to systematize educating the whole child. Our latest attempt includes focusing on social and emotional learning (SEL). While everyone seems to agree that integrating SEL into public education is essential, we’re making little progress in how to assess SEL skills. We need developmentally appropriate, reliable and valid measures of SEL skills. These assessments should generate formative data that are continuously available to educators, parents, and students. The accountability systems in public education need to improve. We need less regulatory...

Florida’s gains give hope for the future – but hope is not a plan

  This is the state of things. Now, make your plans.                                                             -Sophocles Antigone Florida is getting it from both barrels of the age demographic gun – a rise in the elderly, super-elderly and youth all at the same time. On average, 10,000 Baby Boomers per day will reach the age of 65 until 2030, whereupon all surviving Boomers have reached retirement age. For the Florida economy, retirees are a way of life and benefit the state’s economy as they come in and buy condos. But the pain to the state budget hits later, when they near the end and draw...
Gardiner scholarship

Gardiner Scholarship ‘a Godsend’ for Lake Mary family

Ashton Fernandez couldn’t contain his excitement. The 7-year-old was ready to decorate his yard with inflatable Christmas decorations with twin sister Audrey, and he bounded around his family’s living room with obvious glee. Diagnosed at an early age with autism spectrum disorder, Ashton communicates almost completely non-verbally. He smiled wide and tugged at Audrey’s arm, imploring her to play until it was time to decorate their sprawling Lake Mary lawn. As he did so, Arlo, a laid-back golden retriever, sauntered through the room, casually taking in the pre-holiday cheer. “Arlo is Ashton’s therapy dog,” said Jennifer Fernandez, Ashton and Audrey’s mother. She is...
dual enrollment

Private schools seek clarity on dual enrollment costs

A new Florida law intended to eliminate multiple barriers to private and home school students who want to take dual enrollment classes has instead left potentially hundreds of students shut out of taking such courses because their private schools are asked to foot the bill. Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who wrote the legislation on dual enrollment, wants to mitigate the issue in the upcoming legislative session. Baxley said he will advocate for a separate pooled fund or cost sharing mechanism that could potentially be used to cover the costs of dual enrollment, removing the financial burden for colleges and private schools. At...
school choice

Doug Tuthill: ESAs bring healthier market to education

Markets are like gravity. They are everywhere. Markets are where supply meets demand. They are how we access the things we need and want, including food, clothing, housing, friends, media, health care, romantic partners, entertainment, and education. Even those needing kidney transplants are dependent on well-designed markets. Public education also is a market -- unfortunately, a poorly functioning one, especially for low-income and minority children, and most teachers. I’ve been working to improve public education for 42 years. My primary lesson learned is that a well-designed market is a necessary condition before improvements can be systemic, sustainable, effective, and efficient. Effective and efficient...
Home education

Home Education Enrichment Program gives students choice and community

The idea that pain can lead to a positive change in one’s life left students seeking more answers in Jason Crawford’s class. One student sat laughing in disbelief. “How could this be?” she asked with amazement. “Because pain leads to awareness and awareness plus choice equals action,” said Crawford, donning glasses and sporting a beard, as he wrote the formula on the wipe board. “Action turns into habits.” This was not your typical classroom. Crawford is not your typical teacher. He is a marketing consultant who has a master’s in counseling. Pathfinding is just one of more than 50 courses students can take...