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Education politics

school choice

Florida Legislature: Week 8 wrap-up

After weeks of negotiation, the Florida Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would create the state-funded Family Empowerment Scholarship, ending the waiting list for about 13,000 low-income students eligible for a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. Senate Bill 7070 would serve 18,000 students in the program’s first year, with an expansion each year by one quarter of 1 percent of the state’s total public school enrolment. The Senate made a series of changes to the bill in recent weeks, aligning it more closely with a companion bill in the House, HB7075. Among the changes: an increase to the eligibility threshold to...
family empowerment scholarship

‘Monumental day’: Senate passes Family Empowerment Scholarship

In a party-line vote, the Florida Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would create the state-funded Family Empowerment Scholarship, which would eliminate the waiting list for low-income families seeking the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) and expand school choice opportunities for thousands of others. The legislation, SB 7070, would serve 18,000 students in the program’s first year. The number may expand each year by a quarter of one percent of the state’s total public school enrollment. A similar bill pending in the House, HB 7075, would accommodate 28,000 students in the first year. There are about 13,000 students on...

Column: School quality rises as school choice expands

Editor’s note: This opinion piece, written by Step Up For Students’ director of policy and public affairs, appeared April 19 on the Florida Politics blog. The commentary was submitted as a rebuttal to an editorial in the Palm Beach Post, which declined to publish it. Florida’s public education system is leaps and bounds better today than the national embarrassment it was 20 years ago. But critics triggered by “school choice” continue to suggest, without a scrap of proof, that our schools are basket cases, and choice is to blame. In its April 7 editorial, the Palm Beach Post perpetuates long-running myths and hides...
school choice

Florida Legislature: Week 7 wrap-up

As the 2019 legislative session winds to a close, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a bill that would create a new state-funded program to eliminate a waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. The committee approved a significant “strike-all” amendment for SB 7070 proposed by the bill’s sponsor, Education Committee Chair Manny Diaz (R-Miami). The changes include increasing the income eligibility limit for families, putting the bill in line with income limits in a similar bill, HB 7075, being considered by the House. Earlier in the week, the House Education Committee convened for the last...
education

The Hypocrisy of the For-Profit Attack

The term “for-profit” has been weaponized in public education by teachers unions and their tribal allies. They wield it against education improvement initiatives they oppose, especially education choice programs not covered by collective bargaining agreements. (Choice programs not operating under collective bargaining, such as Florida’s Voluntary PreK program, are not targets of for-profit attacks.) For-profit corporations are forbidden to operate charter schools in Florida and California. Yet these schools are constantly being attacked for profiting off students. The overwhelming majority of Florida private schools serving tax credit scholarship and voucher students are non-profit, but newspaper editorial boards regularly criticize them for...
family empowerment scholarship

Senate committee passes amended scholarship bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a bill that would create a new state-funded program to eliminate a waiting list of 13,000 for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. SB 7070, which would establish the Family Empowerment Scholarship, previously passed two other committees. But the Appropriations Committee approved a significant “strike-all” amendment by the bill’s sponsor, Education Committee Chair Manny Diaz (R-Miami). The changes include increasing the income eligibility limit for families to 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($77,250 for a family of four), up from the previous version’s 260 percent, while giving priority to those families...

Money is fungible, not magical

Critics have spilled considerable ink attacking Florida’s proposed Family Empowerment Scholarship. The voucher would cost about $100 million and allow at least 15,000 low- and working-class students to attend private schools. “I’m afraid it will do damage to the regular public schools in the state of Florida,” said Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), who opposed “diverting” money in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) from public schools to private schools. “DeSantis private school voucher plan robs Florida public schools of needed money,” exclaimed the Palm Beach Post editorial board. “The plan would divert money from public education in a state that already ranks...

podcastED: Senator Jeff Brandes on the future of public education

If you ask Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) what he thinks the education world will look like in the year 2040, he’ll tell you it will be going back to the past. “I see us moving back to the one-room schoolhouse where we have students of different capabilities working with each other to help everyone rise,” Brandes says. The Pinellas County lawmaker pushes innovative education policies every year in the Florida Legislature, but new leadership more focused on education choice appear to be giving his ideas more traction. His signature education bill this session, SB 226, would expand a mastery-based education...