May 30, 2024

Leftmedia Bemoans Success of FL School Choice Program

Politico frames the growing number of families taking advantage of Florida’s voucher program as negative for public schools.

Is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis endangering children’s education in the Sunshine State? Is he threatening the future of a failing public school system in favor of the growing success of his school choice voucher program?

The answers are no and no, but given a recent Politico headline, one might assume such a dastardly scheme was being pursued by the popular Republican governor.

“School choice programs have been wildly successful under DeSantis. Now public schools might close,” reads a Politico headline. The teaser warns, “The Republican governor’s school choice programs may serve as a model for other GOP-leaning states across the country.”

Despite Politico’s negative framing of the story, it is nearly impossible for it to be bad news for the students for whom the school system ostensibly exists. While Politico seeks to focus on the struggles Florida’s traditional public school system faces thanks to shrinking enrollment, the story is good news for Florida’s families and their children, especially for poorer and minority families.

Back in 2019, DeSantis signed into law a school choice scholarship program dubbed Family Empowerment. It was a voucher program that was capped at 18,000 students at the time. The targeted families for the program were those with household incomes 185% below the federal poverty level. The vast majority of recipients were from black and Hispanic households. The following year, the number of recipients was increased to 28,000. Last year, the state legislature passed a bill expanding the voucher system to make it available to anyone regardless of income.

The success of Florida’s school choice system can be measured by both the higher math and reading test scores of students involved in the program and the lower rates of absences and suspensions. Furthermore, students enrolled in the program have a 57% college enrollment rate compared to 51% for public school students.

“We need some big changes throughout the country,” said DeSantis at a homeschool convention in Kissimmee. “Florida has shown a blueprint, and we really can be an engine for that as other states work to adopt a lot of the policies that we’ve done.”

Indeed, DeSantis and Florida have shown the rest of the country how successful a school choice voucher system can be. It gives parents the freedom to get their children into the education situation that works best for them, including everything from private schools to public charter schools to homeschooling. It truly is the American way — expanded rather than limited opportunity.

Furthermore, the Left’s argument against school choice falls flat because of how badly the nation’s public schools have failed so many families — most of all those in poor and minority communities. DeSantis and Florida are proving that while granting school choice to parents may reduce public school spending, it is also producing better schools and educational opportunities for the state’s K-12 students.

What the Left fears is Florida’s school choice blueprint, as it shows how to successfully wrest educational control from the teachers unions and special interest groups and return it to its rightful place with the parents.

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