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

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

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

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, […]

Hillsborough County’s Parent University Is Back In Session

School is back in session, and so is Parent University. Parent University is a partnership between the Alliance for Public Schools and the Hillsborough County school district. Parents can take classes to learn more about district school choice offerings, the transition to middle or high school and how to find financial aid for college. Some […]

Online Q & A About Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program

We wanted to offer a plug to the folks over at Step Up For Students, who are hosting an online Q & A about the state’s tax credit scholarship program Tuesday. Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students, will answer questions about the program at redefinED.org beginning at 10:30 a.m. Step Up For Students […]

Bennett Isn’t Backing Down To His Critics

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett is a lightning rod for criticism — and he knows it. He had his share of critics in Indiana, where he lost his reelection as state superintendent last November. “We couldn’t overcome the rhetoric of the teachers unions and the undercurrent that they generated,” Bennett told The Huffington Post a day after […]

How Parent Trigger Opponents Claimed #ParentEmpowerment As Their Own

This week the controversial parent trigger bill died in the Florida Senate on a tie vote — for the second year in a row. Supporters quickly announced they wouldn’t give up on the bill, but their attempts to fire up an online campaign didn’t quite work out the way they planned.

Senate Seeking Compromise On Funding For Online Classes

A Senate committee is attempting to defuse a funding dispute between the state-sponsored Florida Virtual School and private online providers. Tuesday, the Rules Committee added an amendment to an online education bill asking the Florida Department of Education to study funding for online courses and to recommend changes by the end of the year. The […]

A Q & A With Foundation For Florida’s Future CEO Patricia Levesque

Patricia Levesque runs two foundations created by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — the Foundation for Florida’s Future and the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Levesque and Bush are a powerful team advocating for school choice, the controversial parent trigger bill, and Common Core standards being implemented nationwide. Levesque is a divisive figure, drawing criticism […]

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