‘Educational Freedom’: New Red State School Choice Bill Would Make Every Student Eligible For Vouchers
Reagan Reese on January 20, 2023
A piece of Florida legislation filed Thursday would make every K-12 student eligible for funds through the Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program, which provides families who withdraw their students from public and charter schools with taxpayer funds.
HB 1, named “School Choice,” would make all students, regardless of income or education history, eligible for vouchers up to $7,000 as a part of the ESA program. Families who enroll in the program would also be assigned “choice navigators” to help determine the best educational option for a student.
“This is about educational freedom,” Paul Renner, Republican House Speaker, told Spectrum News. “It’s not telling you how you’re gonna raise your children, how you’re gonna educate your children. It’s about making sure that public education means empowering every child, every child, to customize an education that best suits their needs.”
Under the legislation, families will be able to use the funds for instructional materials, fees for college preparatory exams and tutoring services.
In September 2020, Republican Florida Ron DeSantis signed the Family Empowerment Scholarship, the most expansive school choice legislation at the time, which initially gave vouchers to 17,000 students and allowed an increase in vouchers for 28,000 low-income students seeking a private school education.
Florida would be the second state to provide students who attend private schools with vouchers; in July, former Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law the widest school choice program in the county which made more than 1.1 million Arizona students in public and charter schools eligible to receive ESA funds to transfer schools.
“This visionary bill makes school choice a reality for every child in every family across our great state by providing parents the chance to guide how and where the funding for their children’s education is spent,” Florida Senate President Sen. Kathleen Passidomo said in a tweet.
Renner did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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