DeSantis Signs Universal School Choice Bill

DeSantis Signs Universal School Choice Bill

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
|
March 27, 2023

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has just signed House Bill 1 in Miami, which expands school choice in Florida immensely.

During the press event held at a private Catholic school, Gov. DeSantis spoke of how Florida "is number one when it comes to education freedom and education choice."

"The State of Florida is number one when it comes to education and education choice. And today's bill signing cement us in that number one position, because we'll be signing legislation which will represent the largest expansion of education choice not only in the history of this state but in the history of these United States," said Gov. DeSantis.

Additionally, Florida is ranked number one in multiple education fronts such as parental power by the Center for Education Reform, state spending on private school choice, and tax credit scholarship enrollment.

Moreover, one-third of the nation's private scholarship recipients come from Florida.

 

"But what's happened is over the years, as Florida has embraced parental choice, education freedom, you've seen other entities respond. We now have over 360,00o students in charter schools, and our school districts, particularly in here Miami-Dade County, have embraced choice within the school districts. So if you look at all of the students in Florida that are using some type of choice program, private scholarship, charter, intra-district choice, it totals 1.3 million students across our state are utilizing some type of choice program," DeSantis continued, noting this number alone is larger than the total K-12 enrollment of thirty-five other states.

He then describes how House Bill one seeks to remove current financial eligibility requirements for school choice scholarships, especially for low-income families, eliminate the enrollment cap for the Family Empowerment Scholarship, and remove the online course credit requirement.

Benefits for teachers include waiving the general knowledge requirement if teachers have been in the classroom and rated "effective" for three years. A second is expanding the temporary teaching license to five years and other means of eliminating red tape.

DeSantis explained the reasoning of this bill was driven by results more than by philosophy, especially in a state as diverse as Florida, which was ranked number three in the country after COVID.

"If you look at the results that came in, I think the states ahead of us were much different states in terms of their diversity and in terms of their size. If you controlled for demographic differences, we would be number one in the country, just like we were in 2019... and so for us to be as big as we are, as diverse as we are, not just in terms of being like one area; you know the Panhandle's a lot different from Palm Beach and Naples is a lot different than Jacksonville, and yet we've been able to do it in a way that's producing good student outcomes," DeSantis concludes.

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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