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Education legislation

tax credit scholarship

Setting the record straight on choice scholarships

As Florida senators get their first look today at a new private school scholarship for economically disadvantaged students, some familiar taunts about academic results for the existing Tax Credit Scholarship have resurfaced. Be wary of rhetorical flourish. Yes, the low-income scholarship students are not required to take the Florida Standard Assessment administered in traditional public schools. But they are required to take state-approved nationally norm-referenced tests whose academic validity is not in dispute. So those who claim “Floridians have no idea if private schools are succeeding,” as one South Florida newspaper wrote recently, are ignoring 10 years of testing data to...

DeSantis’ State of the State address: ‘One size doesn’t fit all’ in education landscape

TALLAHASSEE – In his first State of the State address Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated his pledge to end the waiting lists for parents seeking the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) for lower-income families and the Gardiner Scholarship for students with certain special needs. About 13,000 families are on a waitlist for the FTC Scholarship, and over 1,900 are on the Gardiner waitlist. (The scholarships are managed by non-profits like Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog.) “Education opportunity shouldn’t be limited by parental income or ZIP code,” DeSantis told a joint session of the Legislature. “One way Florida has...

Reviewing the past as a path to the future

Editor’s note: March 2 marked the 20th anniversary of the legislative session in which Florida Gov. Jeb Bush launched a series of K-12 reforms that transformed education throughout the state. (No, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years either.) Beginning today, as the 2019 Florida legislative session is set to open, and continuing for several months, redefinED will examine aspects of Bush’s K-12 education revolution. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It was 20 years ago today When Gov. Jeb Bush taught the ed reform band to play They’ve been going in and out of style But they’re guaranteed to get sued at trial So may I introduce to you The...

A look-ahead to the Florida legislative session

The Florida Legislature kicks off its annual 60-day session Tuesday with a host of education issues at the top of lawmakers’ agendas, including expansion of educational choice options. Here are some issues and bills to watch. Education choice Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to expand educational options and has vowed to end the waiting lists for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and the Gardiner Scholarship, proposing creation of a new state-funded scholarship. Senate leaders have put forth their own plan to end the waitlists. Bill language was filed in the Senate late Friday afternoon with SB 7070 creating a new state-funded scholarship...
Florida Capitol

Bills to enhance Gardiner Scholarship filed in both legislative chambers

Bills to enhance the Gardiner Scholarship program were filed in the House and Senate this week.  HB 1051 and its companion SB 1380 were filed by Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff (R-DeLand) and Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) respectively. If passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, the changes in the bill would allow parents to apply for the scholarship the day their child turns 3, and permit parents to use the scholarship to pay for tuition and fees associated with art, music or theater programs. The bills also would make it easier for parents to renew their scholarship. Renewing parents would...

Diaz files bill to streamline Hope for bullied students

TALLAHASSEE – State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. on Tuesday filed a bill that would simplify the Hope Scholarship application process for children who claim to be bullied at school, reducing burdens on families and schools. Created by the Florida Legislature last year, the scholarship provides families with financial assistance to send a child to an eligible private school, or to transport the student to a public school in another district. In Senate Bill 1410, Diaz (R-Hialeah), who chairs the Senate Education Committee, proposes the following tweaks to the program: • Allow applications to go straight to Step Up For Students, which...

Diaz proposes another scholarship to eliminate FTC waiting list

TALLAHASSEE – Florida state Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. on Thursday said Senate leaders hope to implement a “Family Empowerment Scholarship” to eliminate a waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. Gov. Ron DeSantis made a similar pledge last week, saying he wanted to create an “Equal Opportunity Scholarship” to eliminate the FTC waitlist of about 13,000 families. Diaz (R-Hialeah), who chairs the Senate Committee on Education, said there were “some similarities” in the two plans. “We will continue to support families’ decisions to choose what’s best for their children’s education – whether it’s public or private school,” Diaz...
opportunity scholarship

State-funded scholarship programs: then and now

In 1999 Florida passed the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), the nation’s first statewide school voucher program in nearly fifty years. Florida also became the first to have a statewide voucher program struck down in 2006 under Bush v. Holmes. More than a decade later, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new state-funded program called the “Equal Opportunity Scholarship,” reanimating debates about the constitutionality of vouchers in the Sunshine State. Back-to-back Florida Supreme Court victories for “voucher” supporters suggest the Holmes ruling began to unravel well before DeSantis appointed three new justices. In fact, significant legal criticism of the ruling at the...