More Choice?

The House Education committee heard a presentation from Adam Miller, Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice within the Department of Education. Miller began his presentation focused on the voucher programs in Florida, their history, rapid increase in participation and the number of students currently using a private school voucher.

Here’s some data to think about: More than 370,000 students are receiving vouchers to attend religious and private schools, with the majority getting Florida Tax Credit vouchers — 108,098. Under the McKay program, 31,044 students are receiving a voucher, while the Gardiner voucher goes to 10,258.

Two new vouchers were approved in the 2018 session: the reading voucher and the Hope voucher for students who say they have been bullied. The Hope voucher program has siphoned off more than $8.9 million in auto sales tax revenue since July 1, gotten only 127 applicants and issued 66 vouchers as of January 9. The $500 reading voucher intended for students with low reading scores, has awarded 4,500 of the 19,000 vouchers available based on funding appropriated from the Legislature.

Miller also reported that the number of students attending a charter school has risen now to 11 percent of the total school population. He also reported that there are 621 charter schools to 3,001 traditional public schools. Interesting factoid to store for later as charter schools gets a lopsided three times the amount of capital outlay funding, which was not mentioned.

Lastly, Miller shared that more than 262,000 students have taken advantage of open enrollment, which means they are currently attending a public school that they are not zoned to attend.