The issue of school choice has been a hotly debated topic across the country, and it appears that school choice proposals are gaining momentum in the sunshine state. With Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signaling his support for school choice, the state could go on to join a growing list of states that have expanded the measure.
In the first week of the Florida legislative session, committees approved proposals that would remove barriers to educational options. Specifically, the legislation expands school choice to all students, and it clears the scholarship waitlist for children with disabilities.
This week, HB 1 cleared the House Education and Employment Committee, and it moves closer to being considered by the Florida Legislature. It’s expected to pass as Speaker Paul Renner (R) has made the bill one of his top priorities.
Florida Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R), a sponsor of the bill, commented that the legislations allows “parents to choose among a variety of options in order to customize the education that best suits their child.” “Under this initiative, we will never have to say ‘no’ to a family in need,” she added.
SB 202, which is the Senate version of the legislation, has also advanced after the Senate Appropriations Committee on Education voted in favor.
Amy Nelson, who is a Crestview parent and member of the National Coalition for Public School Options-Florida, further celebrated that the bill “will empower parents and give them more freedom to decide how they educate their children,” adding that “for my family, having the opportunity to choose has been transformative.”
“I home-school my children and the reality is that every child is unique and deserves the chance to thrive in a learning environment that works best for them,” Nelson explained.
The legislation has however faced pushback from those that argue it will divert state funds away from public schools.
Danny Aqua, the executive director of parent advocacy organization Teach Florida, argued that “what is sometimes lost in these debates is the fact that we can have strong public schools while also giving every parent the opportunity to choose the school that’s best for their child,” assuring that “it’s not a zero-sum decision.”
“When we empower parents, everyone wins,” Aqua affirmed.