Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a historic school choice bill into law earlier this week, making Florida the largest state in the union to give parents universal school choice for their children.
The bill (HB 1) promotes school choice in multiple ways. Among other benefits, the bill:
- Eliminates financial eligibility restrictions and allows any student who is a resident of Florida and is eligible to enroll in K-12 to participate.
- Eliminates the enrollment cap on students who can participate in the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options.
- Requires the development of a new online portal for parents that shows every educational option available for their student.
- Expands the number of scholarships for students with unique abilities by tripling the annual increase from 1% to 3%.
HB 1 was passed by the Florida House of Representatives in an 83-27 vote on March 17, 2023, and then sailed through the Florida Senate 26-12 on March 23, 2023. It was then signed into law by Gov. DeSantis on March 27, 2023.
“Florida is number one when it comes to education freedom and education choice, and today’s bill signing represents the largest expansion of education choice in the history of these United States,” said Gov. DeSantis.
“When you combine private scholarships, charter schools, and district choice programs, Florida already has 1.3 million students attending a school of their choosing,” the governor added. “These programs have been instrumental in elevating student achievement over the past twenty years.”
2023 has already been a banner year for educational freedom across the nation.
The Nebraska state legislature is advancing an Opportunity Scholarships Act that would create private school scholarships for around 5,000 K-12 students in the state.
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently signed into law the Arkansas Learns Act which, in addition to establishing “Education Freedom Accounts” to provide parents with school vouchers, ends the teaching of critical race theory and inappropriate sexual material in Arkansas schools.
Iowa and Utah have also passed bills giving parents better educational options in recent months.
The amount of progress made in advancing education freedom in states around the country is extremely heartening and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The push to give parents more control over their children’s education comes the myriad of problems occurring in public education have been repeatedly exposed during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Parents have new seen how school districts have provided inappropriate sexual materials in school libraries. Other districts have developed “transgender support plans” for students without their parents’ knowledge. And many schools are experiencing falling test scores and failing grades.
These are just a few of the reasons that education freedom must continue to grow. The more freedom and options that are infused into schools nationwide, the better off parents and students will be.
It’s extremely important for parents to be intensely involved in their children’s education. Parents must be aware of what their children are learning in school.
If you’re worried about what your child is being taught in school, check out the following resource from Focus on the Family: Back to School for Parents: A busy parent’s guide to what’s happening in your children’s classrooms and practical steps you can take to protect them.
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Arkansas Senate Passes Sweeping Education Reform Bill Promoting Parental Rights
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