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Private Schools

family empowerment scholarship

The constitutionality – and precedent – of publicly funded private schools

Gov. Ron DeSantis, in an effort to address a backlog of more than 13,000 students awaiting a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, pledged to create a new scholarship paid out of public dollars in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). The new scholarship would generate 28,000 vouchers for low-income and working-class students in the first year. Critics claim the idea is unconstitutional. By putting state funds “directly into the pockets of unaccountable private institutions,” Senate Democrat Leader Gary Farmer said, the voucher “directly contradicts the precedent established by the Florida Supreme Court in Bush v. Holmes.” "It is blatantly unconstitutional," said Rep. Carlos...

revisitED – Jeb Bush: Information is power for low-income parents

Editor’s note: Today, redefinED continues to review pieces published previously on school accountability. This post, which originally appeared in June 2016, features former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in an interview conducted by a student who attended school on a tax credit scholarship. All parents should have access to "consumer reports" on schools in their area — public or private, magnet or charter — and be able to choose among them. Once their children are enrolled in a school, they should get meaningful updates on how well they're doing. It might seem simple, but for too many parents, that's not how the school system works,...

revisited: Study says more school choice regs = lower school choice quality

Editor’s note: redefinED continues its journey through the archives, reviving on Saturdays interesting posts on various topics that deserve a second look. Throughout March, we’re featuring pieces on school accountability. In today’s post, which originally appeared in October 2018, Step Up For Students’ public affairs manager Patrick Gibbons interprets a study that examined the impact of three potential regulations on a hypothetical voucher program. Ramping up regulations on a hypothetical school choice voucher program results in fewer private schools opting to participate, and lower quality among those that do, according to a new study released this week. The study is based...
school choice

Patience, understanding bring scholarship student back from brink

OCOEE, Fla. – The young teacher called, tears choking her words. She wanted to quit. On the other end of the line was Rose Theagene, horrified but not surprised. She knew her youngest son, Darryl Dutervil, was on the verge of expulsion due to escalating behavior problems in first grade at his neighborhood school. “He threw a chair at the teacher, and it almost hit another student,” she recalled. “He was pushing and hitting kids. Parents were complaining. It was very bad. At the meeting, I just said I would take Darryl out of the school to save everyone the trouble.” Rose...
school choice

Bill to end FTC waiting list clears House hurdle

TALLAHASSEE -- In a bipartisan vote, the House Education Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would eliminate a waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. House PCB EDC 19-01, known as the Family Empowerment Scholarship, would help pay for private school tuition and fees, with unused funds rolling over to the next school year. The scholarship also could cover transportation costs to a public or lab school in the student’s district. The bill passed by a 15-2 vote during a hearing marked occasionally by emotional debate and testimony. All 12 Republicans on the committee voted in favor of...

revisitED: Less school regs, more school choice

Consumer choice and government regulation comprise the two components of educational accountability systems. In the areas of home-schooling and private schools, Florida has struck a good balance between regulations and choice, but the public district and charter schools are overregulated. To achieve a more appropriate balance, public schools need less regulation and more consumer choice. The accountability system for homeschools is instructive for private and public schools. Parents must notify their school district in writing when they intend to create a home school program. They must keep a portfolio for two years of all the instructional activities and materials used...

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...