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  • Florida: Five Steps Forward for School Choice

    Florida, already an education reform leader, took further steps this week to expand educational opportunity and provide more school choice for families.

    Governor Rick Scott (R), who on Monday signed five bills to broaden educational opportunities for K–12 students, remarked: “Everything we can do to encourage more choice, we should be doing it.”

    And Governor Scott is serious about expanding options. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Scott’s bills increase students’ options in a variety of ways, providing more choice between charter, public, virtual, and private schools.

    Charter School Choice. High-performing charter schools will now be able to “increase their enrollment by adding additional grades or opening additional branches without the local school board’s approval.” Currently, there are more than 30,000 students on waiting lists for the top-performing Florida charter schools.

    Public School Choice. Previously, students attending a failing public school—one which received an “F” grade for two of the four previous years—could transfer to a higher-performing public school. Now, if a student’s school receives a “D” or “F” grade in the previous year, he or she will be able to transfer to a higher-performing public school.

    Virtual School Choice. The Florida Virtual School, the nation’s largest online school, will now be able to offer courses for elementary school children, whereas courses were previously limited to middle and high school students.

    Private School Choice. The new laws expand private school choice for special-needs students via the state’s McKay Scholarship program. The scholarships, currently limited to children “in the state’s exceptional-education program,” will now be open to students with “504 plans,” or students who have a disability but generally not one that requires the same level of intervention.

    The legislation broadens private school choice for low-income students. Corporations that contribute to Florida’s Tax-Credit Scholarship Program—which allows businesses to receive a tax deduction for donations toward private school scholarships for low-income students—will now be able to receive a deduction for up to 100 percent (previously set at 75 percent) “of their state income tax liability.” Encouraging more corporations to participate means more scholarships for more students.

    Since Florida implemented a series of education reforms more than 10 years ago to expand school choice, student scores have increased significantly, and the achievement gap between minority and white students is narrowing.

    Today, many more states are putting policies similar to Florida’s into place to ensure that parents can choose the school that best meets their child’s needs. As the school choice tide continues to swell, more students and families around the nation will have the power to make the best choices for their children’s academic futures. Florida is once again leading the way, and students in the Sunshine State are the beneficiaries.

    Learn more about the exciting school choice advances across the country in 2011 at Heritage’s Choices in Education page.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Florida: Five Steps Forward for School Choice

    1. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      Florida appears to have put into law Obama's recently touted "government-business partnership" by making it easier and more attractive for businesses to invest in education. Who said big business is greedy, selfish and doesn't care about the children? I'm sure the NEA and AFT will still howl. Choice is only sacrosanct during a pregnancy.

    2. Karen Schoen says:

      Isn’t that wonderful. Now Florida will have 5 more ways to indoctrinate students.

      It is the anti-American, Anti- family, Anti-Moral, Anti-free market curriculum that is the problem.

      The curriculum is based on UNESCO values not US values. No one looks at the content which is void of facts, cognitive thinking logic and reason.

      Our student lack of understanding of American values, history, civics, economics and scientific data is not the fault of choice.

      Choice will not improve reading, writing and math. Looking at the bias and lack of truth in content in the texts will improve learning.
      The Department of Education is indoctrinating our children and no one is looking at the content of the texts. Look at truthaboutib.com.

      Race to the Top is a Race to Socialism and a Federal take over of the Schools with substandard common core standards reporting to a national data base.
      Is anybody home? Is anybody paying attention. NO, so surprise our kids graduate without knowing how to read, write and simple math or about America. Why are we surprised?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6bARRmEpH8

      So we spend more money fixing the items that do not affect learning and we expect the children to be brilliant.

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