Florida leads the nation in education choice

“A decade ago, 390 students in my district used state-funded school choice scholarships or state-funded education savings accounts. Last year, more than 1,500 did.”
Private Elementary School Kids Holding Hands
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(The Center Square) – Florida is leading the nation in several areas and one that stands out is the choice a parent has when it comes to their child’s education.

Republican Florida Rep. Kaylee Tuck wrote an opinion column for Fox News on Florida’s many successes when it comes to school choice, particularly in rural areas such as her district.

“I am privileged to represent four rural counties in a region called The Florida Heartland. We’re not the Florida they put on postcards. Cattle and citrus are some of our biggest industries, and the tourists we get tend to like racing (at Sebring International Raceway) and bass fishing (on Lake Okeechobee),” Tuck wrote.

“The people in my district are resourceful and hard-working, the kind who make rural communities the backbone of America,” Tuck said. “They value school choice.”

Tuck added that parents were accessing far more scholarships than ever before.

“A decade ago, 390 students in my district used state-funded school choice scholarships or state-funded education savings accounts. Last year, more than 1,500 did.”

“Statewide over that same period, the number of choice scholarship students in Florida’s 30 rural counties grew from 2,547 to about 8,500, according to a new report from Step Up for Students, the nonprofit that administers Florida’s choice scholarships,” Tuck said.

Tuck did not respond to a request for comment.

Step Up for Students is an initiative supported by community giving, tax programs and individual giving to ensure that “children gain access to private or public schools that would otherwise be out of their reach. Students who were bullied get a fresh start. Struggling readers excel with extra support. And those with unique abilities access a wider range of academic programs and materials to meet their needs,” according to its website.

In December, Florida was named as the nation’s top state when it comes to parent-led education. State leaders prides themselves on allowing parents to take the initiative in their child’s education.

On the Parent Power Index, Florida rates at 94%, earning it the top spot in the 10 leading states for school choice in the United States – 19 percentage points above number 10, which is Utah.

The Parent Power Index website also states that much of the success that Florida is experiencing with education is because of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying “Both statewide and nationally, DeSantis is known for his commitment to education freedom and innovation. Florida owes its national Parent Power lead to DeSantis’ relentless efforts for families in the Sunshine State.”

In 2021, DeSantis signed HB 7045 to expand opportunities for children in low-income households, and children with unique abilities. Children from military families, foster homes and those who have been adopted will have greater access to help.

At the time of the signing, DeSantis said, “This legislation creates historical levels of flexibility in both schooling and educational services for millions of low-income families and families of students with unique abilities.”  He added, “As we have seen for more than 20 years now, these scholarship programs have elevated so many children and families. I am thankful to Senator Manny Diaz and Representatives Randy Fine and Jason Fischer for sponsoring this inclusive legislation to ensure that all of Florida’s students have the best chance for success.”

Andrew Powell
Andrew Powell is a contributor for The Center Square.

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