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Private Schools

Remembering education champion, choice pioneer Yvonne C. Clayton

Editor's note: Throughout her decades-long career as an educator, Yvonne C. Clayton firmly believed -- and told anyone who would listen -- that every student could learn. Born and raised in a small town about 40 miles east of Tallahassee, she relocated to Pinellas County, where she was a teacher and administrator for more than 30 years. Her conviction that families deserve as many choices as possible for educating their children led her to open Yvonne C. Reed Christian Academy in 1998, where she worked for 12 years. redefinED is honoring Ms. Clayton today by reprising a post and...

Private school population increasing with or without benefit of scholarships

Florida’s non-scholarship private school student population saw the first significant increase since the 2003-04 school year. K-12 students enrolled in private schools without the aid of school vouchers in 2018-19 was also the highest recorded since the 2011-12 school year. Students attending K-12 private schools without the help of tax-credit scholarships or vouchers increased 9 percent from 180,721 to 197,552 this year. The overall private school population, including students enrolled in preschool, increased 3 percent, from 370,116 to 380,295. Step Up For Students collected private school enrollment data from various school choice programs since 2000. K-12 private school enrollment peaked in...

Florida private school enrollment, schools, continuing to trend upward

Private school enrollment in Florida, along with the number of private schools operating in the state, increased over the past year according to the Florida Department of Education's new annual report. Compared with the 2017-18 school year, prekindergarten through 12th-grade enrollment grew by 10,129 students, from 370,166 to 380,129, while the number of private schools increased by 39, from 2,650 to 2,689. The uptick followed a decade-long trend that saw an increase of 67,004 students and 600 schools since 2009-10. Private school enrollment now tops 15 percent of total school enrollment in five Florida districts: Jefferson and Martin, each with 31.7 percent;...

School choice amidst the sugar cane

Editor’s note: Throughout July, redefinED is revisiting stories that shine a light on extraordinary schools. Today’s spotlight, first published in April 2018, tells the story of a small Christian school that has found a niche in a rural Florida community. CLEWISTON, Fla. – It’s hard to think of anywhere in Florida more off the beaten path than the string of blue-collar towns on the rim of Lake Okeechobee. They’re snugged between the grassy, 30-foot-high dike that corrals America’s second-biggest lake, and a 450,000-acre sea of sugar cane that rolls south towards the Everglades. This is not palmy, beachy Florida. This is...

A forgotten ‘freedom school’

Editor's note: On this Fourth of  July, redefinED is republishing a post that first appeared in May 2016 about a California school, birthed from years of dissatisfaction with the public school system, that struck a blow for education freedom. If the American left had fully championed school choice decades ago, we may be celebrating what happened in 1972 in Blythe, Calif., as the spark of a movement. That spring, the Mexican-American community’s frustration with the public school system boiled over, spurring creation of a scrappy “freedom school” that became Escuela de la Raza Unida, which still exists today. This lost story from...

Teen rises above spina bifida, earns academic scholarship to Florida Tech

Tears tumbled down Tiffanie Kowalik’s cheeks as she tried to hold her camera phone steady and focus on documenting her firstborn son, Skieler, reading aloud his acceptance letter to the Florida Institute of Technology. When he got to the total value of his scholarship – $83,440 over four years – she could hold back no longer, as bursting pride, joy, relief, and memories flooded her mind. Skieler was born with spina bifida with lipomeningocele. Doctors did not think he would be able to walk or use the bathroom by himself. He endured five surgeries on his lower back, grueling physical therapy,...

Venture Incubator project aims to grow new private schools, leaders

LAKELAND, Fla. – In announcing Friday the creation of the Florida Education Venture Incubator, Bill Olsen posed an inviting question to about 850 private school educators: Have you ever thought about starting a new private school to serve low-income students? Olsen, director of The Drexel Fund’s Founders Program, was speaking on Day 2 of the Step Up For Students Gardiner & FTC Conference at Victory Christian Academy here. The two-day conference, organized by the state’s largest scholarship funding organization, drew its audience from educators whose schools participate in state scholarship and voucher programs serving roughly 140,000 students. The Venture Incubator project is...

‘Historic’ private school conference kicks off in Lakeland

Lakeland, Fla. – More than 850 private school educators packed Victory Christian Academy this morning for a two-day conference featuring national speakers and workshops on teaching, learning and student assessment in Florida. The conference, organized by the state’s largest scholarship funding organization, draws its audience from educators whose schools participate in state scholarship and voucher programs serving roughly 140,000 students. As such, Doug Tuthill, president of that organization, Step Up For Students, called the event “historic.” “Our Office of Student Learning has worked incredibly hard to put this together,” Tuthill said. “Educators from every corner of the state have come together...