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.