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Private Schools

Guest post: The puzzling outcry over reducing a waiting list for low-income students

By Pastor Robert Ward The Tampa Bay Times says it is “absurd” for Gov. Ron DeSantis to say spending public money on private school tuition is still public education. The only thing that’s absurd is the Times’ selective scrutiny. Florida has been spending billions of public dollars on private school tuition for years, through a variety of programs beyond the one the newspaper disparages. Yet the only time the Times sees a constitutional violation is when the governor proposes to use public money to expand learning options for children in poverty. Has the Times ever thundered against use of state-funded Bright Futures scholarships...
school choice

Bill to eliminate FTC waitlist clears committee hurdle

TALLAHASSEE – In a 5-3 party-line vote, the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would eliminate a waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. The bill, SB 7070, creates the Family Empowerment Scholarship program. It includes other provisions related to a teacher bonus program and funding for social services at public schools. “What we’re doing is trying to find common balance and make sure all students have the best education possible,” said committee chair Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah). Diaz expressed concern that the definition of public education “keeps getting twisted.” He added: “The reason we created public...

Private school, public district collaborate to benefit teachers, students

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – Judi Hughes is a serial retirer. Nowhere is her quick wit more evident than when she explains why she came out of retirement a third time – after more than 40 years in the School District of Lee County – to be principal at St. Andrew Catholic School in this sprawling, sun-soaked suburban city. “Irish Catholic guilt,” she says with a rhythmic chuckle, adding that she only had intended to help with the hiring process when the school drafted her. Five years later, she’s still brimming with infectious energy that flashes from her baby blue eyes, and she’s...

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...
school choice

The family no one knew was homeless

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Just when Ruthanne Dumas thought her life couldn’t fall apart any further, she got the biggest scare of it. A steady financial decline had left her and her two youngest daughters, Isabella and Gabriella, homeless. The girls had recently started at a new private school, thanks to education choice scholarships. And then a sudden illness landed Isabella in intensive care. Doctors thought she might have leukemia. “It was horrible,” Ruthanne recalled, her voice trembling. After it turned out to be just a virus and the raw fear and panic had subsided, Isabella’s new principal and teacher arrived. They brought...
school choice

revisitED: School choice gave this teacher freedom

Editor’s note: This February marks the 43rd anniversary of Black History Month. redefinED is taking the opportunity to revisit some pieces from our archives appropriate for this annual celebration. The article below originally appeared in redefinED in March 2017. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the school featured in this article while on the campaign trail. Angela Kennedy’s decision to quit being a public school teacher was driven by a steady drip, drip, drip of frustration. In her view, teaching had become too scheduled and scripted, with new teacher evaluations rewarding conformity more than effectiveness. Cohort after cohort of low-income kids...
school choice

Gov. DeSantis proposes new program to end FTC wait list

ORLANDO -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday called on the Legislature to create a new state-funded program that would reduce the number of families on a waiting list to receive the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) for lower-income families. Speaking at Calvary City Christian Academy & Preschool, DeSantis proposed establishing an “equal opportunity scholarship” funded in the state budget to ensure that demand from lower-income and working class parents for educational choice can be met. It would provide scholarships in the same amount as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, and the program’s enrollment would be capped at 14,000 students...

Study: School choice scholarship students more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees

The largest private school choice program in America got more solid evidence of its effectiveness Monday. The lower-income, mostly minority students using the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship to attend private schools are up to 43 percent more likely to enroll in four-year colleges than like students in public schools, and up to 20 percent more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees, according to a new study released Monday by the Urban Institute. The outcomes are even stronger for students who use the scholarship four or more years. Those students are up to 99 percent more likely to attend a four-year college than...