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Education legislation

Appeals court weighs major education law

By Jim Saunders and Tom Urban, The News Service of Florida TALLAHASSEE - Appearing skeptical of arguments made by school boards, an appeals court Tuesday waded into a challenge to the constitutionality of a 2017 state law that seeks to boost charter schools. Numerous school boards across the state filed two lawsuits contending that the law infringed on their rights to operate school districts. One of the major issues in the case is the law’s authorization of “schools of hope,” a new type of charter school aimed at areas where children have been served by traditional public schools that are low...
Power of Choice sign

‘Paramount duty’ never intended as weapon against school choice

Editor's note: Misinformation abounds across the education choice landscape, adding confusion to an already complex issue. The redefinED team is dedicated to shining a light and providing the facts. Today's post debunks a long-standing misconception: The state constitution says free public schools are the sole means for the state to provide education in Florida. You can see more myth busting here, or click the link at the top right-hand corner of this page.     The primary reason the Florida Opportunity Scholarship program was struck down 13 years ago was noticeably absent from recent news coverage of a potential lawsuit...
Gardiner Scholarship

DeSantis touts funding boost for Gardiner Scholarship

JACKSONVILLE – Returning to the school where he first pledged to eliminate a waiting list for the Gardiner Scholarship, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday celebrated a boost in state funding for the program for students with special needs. DeSantis spoke at North Florida School of Special Education, where in February he requested additional dollars in the 2019-20 state budget to provide scholarships to the more than 1,800 students on the Gardiner waiting list. Wednesday, he said that the new budget increases Gardiner funding by $23 million, to $147.9 million, which will allow the program to serve at least 2,000 more...
family empowerment scholarship

Standing up to tribal pressure

Last Thursday was a wonderful day for students in Florida, especially students living in undervalued neighborhoods and desperate for educational options. Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled the state promoting the belief that those children, not just those from families of means, should be in great schools. As executive director of Florida Parent Network, I manage a team of professional organizers who planned and arranged these events, and at the last one, in Miami, DeSantis signed a bill that officially created the Family Empowerment Scholarship. This scholarship will help 18,000 students get off scholarship waiting lists and into schools they couldn’t otherwise afford. It...

Family Empowerment Scholarship becomes law

In a historic expansion of school choice in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed into a law a bill that creates a new, state-funded voucher program. DeSantis officially signed the legislation before a passionate crowd of students, educators, lawmakers and school choice supporters at William A. Kirlew Junior Academy, a private K-8 school, in Miami Gardens. The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES), the new state-funded program approved last month by both chambers, will eliminate a waiting list of 13,000 families seeking a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) for their children and expand school choice options for thousands of others. The new...
school choice

New scholarship capped historic legislative session

Florida’s 2019 legislative session rewarded supporters of school choice as the House and Senate created the Family Empowerment Scholarship and boosted funding for charter schools. The new state-funded K-12 scholarship will help get 18,000 low-income and working-class students off a waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) for lower-income families. (The FTC scholarship is managed by non-profits such as Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog.) The 18-year-old scholarship serves 100,512 students this year and is funded by corporate contributions that receive dollar-for-dollar state tax credits. However, the rate of growth in contributions slowed this year and failed...
education savings accounts

Education choice options advance in Tennessee

Tennessee lawmakers on Wednesday approved school voucher legislation that would allow families in two counties and the state-run Achievement School District to use education savings accounts for private school tuition and other education-related expenses. The program would give participating families debit cards worth up to $7,300 in state education money each year. For the first three years, the state would provide grants to the counties to offset the money leaving local school districts with those students. The landmark legislation, which evolved from months of deliberation, received final approval after a 100-member committee resolved differences between the House and Senate versions of...
family empowerment scholarship

House passes Family Empowerment Scholarship

After a lengthy, contentious hearing that lasted parts of two days, the House of Representatives on Tuesday sent to the governor a bill creating a new state-funded K-12 scholarship for 18,000 low-income and working-class students. Senate Bill 7070, which survived 24 failed Democratic amendments on Monday, passed 76-39 with the support of all Republicans and six Democrats. It creates the Family Empowerment Scholarship, an attempt to address the unmet demand for the 18-year-old Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which serves 100,512 students this year and is funded by corporate contributions that receive dollar-for-dollar state tax credits. The rate of contribution growth...