TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Florida is advancing a bill to empower parents to choose the learning environment that aligns with their values and works best for their children.
House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) said they would make sure the proposal to expand Florida’s Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) to all K-12 students in Florida makes it to the finish line.
“School choice empowers parents, creates competition, fosters innovation, and raises the level of excellence in all of our schools,” said Renner. “HB 1 will give every parent the freedom to customize their children’s education with a learning program that fits their unique needs.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R-Lake Placid), said the ESAs would allow families to tap into state education funds dedicated to their children to pay for private school tuition, textbooks, homeschool curriculum, tutoring, special needs therapy, and more.
FUNDING SHOULD FOLLOW THE CHILD
Critics have argued that public school districts would lose funding under the measure. But Renner told The Florida Standard that funding has always followed the child in Florida. Public schools receive funding from the state based on the number of pupils in attendance.
The bill underwent multiple amendments today in the House Education and Employment Committee with Democrats and Republicans in favor of the initiative. But lawmakers are still working out how the ESAs will be accounted for in the state budget.
Chairman of the Pre K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), said today that funding is available for every student in Florida and they will find the best method of integrating the program into the budget.
FLORIDA #1 FOR EDUCATION FREEDOM
Last year, The Heritage Foundation ranked Florida number 1 for education freedom in its inaugural Education Freedom Report Card. Additionally, Florida was number 3 in education choice behind Arizona and Indiana – a ranking that would likely change if the proposal passes and Governor Ron DeSantis signs the bill.
“Florida’s schoolchildren are thriving because we invest in our students, and we empower parents to decide what learning environment is best for their kids,” said DeSantis at the event with The Heritage Foundation.
Florida’s move to expand eligibility for ESAs to all students would likely make Florida number 1 in education choice, a desire expressed by the governor at the event.