Here are a few statistics on Florida's education system. 86.9% of high school students graduate in Florida compared to 87.3% nationally. Florida scored 94% on a national ranking of three criteria: choice programs, charter schools, and innovation. However Florida is not perfect. It ranked 42nd for education funding per student and 49th for the number of teachers per 100 students in public schools.
Florida House HB 1 and Senate SB202 would give all parents the ability to choose with the education dollars whether public schools, charter schools, private schools, virtual learning, or home schools are the better choice for them. The previous school choice bill was limited to low income and disabled children which would still have priority, but now everyone (even homeschoolers) can apply to get money for education supplies or tutors. For years, our public school system was "one size fits all", but now parents can decide what is best. The American Federation for Children found that providing school choice had a higher on-time graduation rate than when school choice was not an option. This bill does give priority on vouchers to low income and disability families first which help to increase school attendance and graduation rates among minority groups.
Even under conservative estimates, the voucher program would cost Florida taxpayers about $4 billion in the initial year of SB 202 implementation. Some feel it would cause a shortfall in revenue for students still in public school. In 2020 the average total per-pupil revenue for the U.S. was $16,062 compared to $11, 526 for Florida. Of course more "bucks" does not always mean better education. The Cato institute found that even though total costs has skyrocketed to almost three times from 1970 in real dollars, most of the increase was due to more employees and had little effect on test scores. One "kink' in the voucher program is that it may funnel money away from the public schools. However, later, it will promote competition between schools for improvement and will benefit both public and private schools.
Get more from the Citrus County Chronicle
This bill is about equality where each child is given the same resources or opportunities. The old bill was about equity which recognized each child came from different circumstances and allocated the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. Equality would be true democracy and not "wealthy socialism" as a previous writer has insinuated.