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School Choice

Florida Senate Signs Off On Expansion Of School Choice

Apr 26, 2019

Florida senators on Thursday passed legislation that would allow more students to use taxpayer-funded scholarships to pay for private-school tuition, a major step toward expanding school choice in the state.

Heading into the 2019 Legislative Session, state lawmakers on either side of the aisle aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on education. Like they have in previous years, school choice and school safety remain polarizing issues.

School choice is a priority for the education advisory committee Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis has convened to help shape his policy goals.

The panel met for a second time in Tallahassee Friday.

Related: DeSantis Transition Team Discusses Concerns About Teacher Pay, K-12 Funding 

Florida students who get bullied may get taxpayer help to attend a private school.

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In 2017, Florida lawmakers passed a law that allows kids to attend any public school in the state, regardless of where they live. 

The state joined 42 other states that have policies allowing students to attend a school outside of their resident district.

United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited Leon County Tuesday, making stops at Holy Comforter Episcopal School and the Florida State University Research School. DeVos used the trip to champion school choice and individual liberties.

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Beginning this fall, Florida students can go to any public school in the state. Seen as a victory for proponents of school choice, the new law was signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year. It allows students to cross county borders as long as a school has room, and parents provide their own transportation. 

USF Student Part Of Trump's Case For School Choice

Mar 3, 2017
Office of the Speaker / Wikimedia Commons

In his address to a joint-session of Congress this week, President Trump celebrated the success of Denisha Merriweather, a graduate student at the University of South Florida.

WUSF Public Media

Republican Joe Negron was sworn in as the new President of the Florida Senate last month and he recently laid out his priorities for education in the state. That includes more money for higher education and boosting the reputation of Florida's universities.

Florida’s retail industry is gearing up for this year’s back-to-school sales tax “holiday” on clothes, classroom supplies and computer equipment, with the state offering the tax break for five days .
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An appeals court says Florida's teacher union has no legal right to challenge the state's largest private school voucher program.

Florida House of Representatives

Florida's Legislature has a new House Speaker.

Starting in November, Land O' Lakes Republican Rep. Richard Corcoran will preside over the state House of Representatives.

This week on Florida Matters, (Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 a.m.), we’ll feature a newsmaker conversation with him.

Corcoran, who is serving his fifth year in the Florida House and who once served as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s chief of staff, is a conservative known to stand up against his own political party.

Within the massive education bill awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature is a provision that says that parents will be able to enroll their child in any school they choose, as long as there's space available.

If there's room on the roster, those students also can immediately start playing a sanctioned sport.

Education Bills Lined Up In House

Feb 16, 2016
Robin Sussingham/WUSF

The Florida House this week could pass a series of education bills that range from trying to provide more school choice to families to ensuring children have time for recess.

The latest of three lawsuits threatening school choice in the Sunshine State was filed Aug. 28. If it is successful, 67,000 children from low-income families will be forced out of the schools they chose and back into the traditional public schools they had opted out of for so many years.

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 program each year. Then earlier this year lawmakers raised the income cap. Now, a family of four earning $62,000 can receive a partial scholarship.

Explaining The Research On Single-Gender Classes

May 15, 2014
John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

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.

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Right now, schools determine whether to move a student into special education classes.

But a proposed bill in Tallahassee would give parents of children with special needs more power over their education.

Fort Lauderdale sixth-grader Mariah Harris has Down syndrome, and she wants to be a veterinary technician.

“My dream is to go to college with my friends one day,” she told a panel of lawmakers.

Pinellas County schools

Bonnie Harvin says her 11-year-old daughter is doing well at Life Force Arts and Technology Academy in Clearwater.

“She’s a straight A student,” says Harvin. “Her FCAT scores are above grade level. So yes, I do think she has improves. A lot”

But Pinellas County school board members say the evidence to close Life Force is “overwhelming.” The charter school is in bankruptcy, it changed its curriculum without permission and it’s failing to serve students with disabilities.