Putting Education Reform To The Test



Creating Competition Through School Choice


Few Florida students are stuck attending the school around the corner if they are unhappy with that school’s performance. From magnet, charter, single-sex academies and offering businesses tax credits to provide private school scholarships, Florida is a national leader in the move away from mandating attendance in the local school district.

The goal is to allow parents and students to choose the school that works best for them, and to encourage traditional public schools to improve their performance. School choice includes public options, such as specialty magnet programs and charter schools, run with public funds.

Choice also includes private options such as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for businesses and other donors who fund private school scholarships for low income students. Nearly 29,000 students received a private school scholarship during the 2009-2010 school year, according to the Florida Department of Education.

The Florida Supreme Court struck down a private school voucher program in 2006.
Florida school choice also includes the McKay Scholarships, which allows K-12 students with disabilities — including intellectual, vision, hearing or learning — to choose to attend another public or private school. More than 22,000 students received a McKay Scholarship during the 2010-2011 school year.

Earlier this year Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, signed legislation that makes it easier for students to transfer to public schools outside their district, allows good charter schools to expand more quickly, expands McKay Scholarship eligibility, increases business tax credits for scholarship donations and allows the Florida Virtual School to offer elementary school courses.

Latest Posts

Testing, School Choice, PE: A Town Hall Conversation About Florida Education

Rashon and Mr. Brown, two people featured in the documentary "180 Days: Hartsville." Florida public media stations will air the movie this month. Check local listings.

This week, PBS is launching a new documentary series “180 Days.” One of the films focuses on Hartsville, South Carolina, a rural and poor district which has managed to become one of the highest rating school districts according to South Carolina’s ranking. Tampa public media station WUSF hosted a town hall meeting at Artz 4 [...]

How A Private Middle School Is Preparing Students For High School Success

A private St. Petersburg middle school is finding success helping its students graduate.

It’s 7:30 a.m. and the fifth through eight graders at Academy Prep in midtown St. Petersburg are lined up outside to recite the school pledge. It’s a cool February morning and they’re a little fidgety until Head of School Gina Burkett raises two fingers above her head and all goes quiet. The pledge starts with [...]

School Board Members Launch New Pro-School Choice Group

Escambia County school board member Jeff Bergosh is leading the new school boards group.

School board members dissatisfied with the statewide association who represents them are forming their own group, the Fort Myers News-Press and others report. One reason is the school board members are unhappy the Florida School Boards Association joined a lawsuit challenging the state’s private school tax credit scholarship. From the News-Press story: The Florida Coalition [...]

Bill Could Give Out-Of-State Charter Schools A Florida Foothold

A Rocketship Education ad, posted on Twitter, for a Washington, D.C. school choice event.

Florida charter schools which consistently earn good grades on the state’s public school report card get special privileges. Soon, out-of-state charter schools could too. It could help national charter school chains have an easier time finding a foothold in Florida. The state’s “high performing” label allows schools to expand across Florida more quickly, sign longer-term [...]

Court, Public Relations Battle Over Florida Private School Programs Heating Up

The Florida Education Association has amended its challenge of a new school choice law in the Leon County's Second Judicial Circuit.

The legal and public relations battle over Florida’s private school scholarship programs continues, with the statewide teacher’s union revising its lawsuit and a school choice group producing a new television ad supporting the programs. Wednesday, the Florida Education Association amended its complaint challenging a new school choice law. The new complaint adds South Florida parents [...]

Why The ACLU Is Challenging Single-Gender Classes In Florida Schools

The ACLU is worried single-gender classes might reinforce stereotypes of the 1950s.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed federal complaints against school districts in Broward, Hernando, Hillsborough and Volusia counties over the use of all-girls or all-boys classes. The ACLU wants the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate the programs. StateImpact Florida’s Gina Jordan spoke with Galen Sherwin, a senior staff attorney [...]

Florida’s Teacher Union Says Scholarship Program Is Unconstitutional

When Florida first approved its private school tax credit scholarship program in 2001, Florida Education Association attorney Ron Meyer said education groups questioned the legality, but no one really objected to helping low-income students get out of low-performing schools. But then the scholarship program started to grow. Lawmakers approved a law that automatically expanded the [...]

Recapping The Results From Tuesday’s Education Races

It was a tale of two coast Tuesday. On the east coast, voters defeated incumbent school board members. While incumbents largely survived along Florida's Gulf Coast.

Voters turned out two leaders of the Florida School Boards Association in campaigns contested on school choice and Florida’s new math and language arts standards. But incumbents mostly won reelection across Florida Tuesday night, or advanced to a November runoff. Two-term Indian River school board member Karen Disney-Brombach was defeated by Shawn Frost and Volusia [...]

Explaining The Research On Single-Gender Classes

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging single-gender schools and classes in Hillsborough County. The ACLU claims the programs reinforce gender stereotypes and that the evidence supporting single-gender schooling is based on “junk science.” So what does the science say? The results are mixed, as is often the case in education research. Two large reviews [...]

A Q & A With Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage

Charter Schools USA CEO Jon Hage says his father advised him if he focused on quality and helping kids, politics wouldn't interfere.

Our colleagues at WLRN sat down with Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage to talk South Florida business. Here’s the Q & A with WLRN’s Elaine Chen: Jon Hage heads the for-profit charter school management company, Charter Schools USA (CSUSA), based in Fort Lauderdale. The company operates 58 schools in seven states across the country, [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »