(The Center Square) – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that expands the state’s education savings account program to all of the state’s school children at a ceremony in Miami on Monday.
House Bill 1 will eliminate financial eligibility restrictions and the current enrollment cap when it goes into effect on July 1.
“Today’s bill signing cements us in that number one position, because we will be signing legislation which will represent the largest expansion of education choice, not only in the history of this state, but of these United States,” DeSantis said.
Florida is ranked first in the country for parental power, according to the Center for Education Reform, and is ranked first for education freedom according to the Heritage Foundation. According to state officials, there are 1.3 million students who participate in school choice already in Florida, a number larger than the entire K-12 student populations of 35 other states.
DeSantis noted that Florida is also top ranked in regard to student scholarships and provides more resources to parents who wish to homeschool their children.
Scholarships include the Family Empowerment Program and Education Savings Accounts. Eligible students can claim up to $8,000 per year and are able to spend the funds on educational resources or private tuition and private schools.
“House Bill 1, it expands school choice to every single student in the state of Florida, and it does that by eliminating the current financial eligibility restrictions and allowing any student who is a resident of Florida and eligible to enroll in K-12 to participate in school choice scholarships,” DeSantis said.
Low and middle-income families will have first priority, however, DeSantis stated that education funding should follow the student, regardless of family circumstances.
The bill will also help create an online portal for parents to choose the best educational options for their student and aids in eliminating barriers and red tape for teachers.
“This bill is major game changer I think that yet again we are leading the country when it comes to things like education choice,” DeSantis said, adding that the bill is all about results.
DeSantis said that Florida has proven that more choice in schools and more power given to parents to direct their child’s education has positive results on student outcomes.
Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, stated that everyone should be proud of the progress education has made in the Sunshine State.
“With the governor’s support and signature today, Florida delivers the largest expansion of educational freedom in our nation’s history. That’s something we should all be proud about,” Renner said.
Renner also added that HB 1 allows children to be educated in environments that are in line with their values and beliefs.
“We don’t want your child to go to a school where their values are mocked and held up in derision…educational choice also means you have the ability to have your child to go somewhere where they learn all the basics, but they also have their values and their faith respected,” Renner said.