The Senate Education Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would clear out the 14,000-student wait list for Florida Tax Credit Scholarships, which fund tuition for K-12 students to attend private and charter schools.
The proposal is one of Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ priorities. He announced his desire for an “Equal Opportunity Scholarship” to supplement the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship last month. The proposal drew praise from school choice advocates but has been criticized by those favoring traditional public schools.
SB 7070‘s approval was a win for pro-school choice organizations, which lauded the panel’s decision Wednesday afternoon.
School Choice Movement board member Shawn Frost issued the following statement:
“The voices from parents today said it all. Their emotional stories and diverse reasons why different schools work best for their own children spoke volumes.
“We are grateful for the progress made today. The guiding principle of the school choice movement simply is that parents – not bureaucracies — are the most qualified to pick that right learning environment. Every great school should be celebrated, regardless of who operates it.
“We also heard some of the same myths from the League of Women Voters and FEA. Their ‘concerns’ are a red herring. It is important to clarify that traditional public schools are funded by the state based on how many students they serve. The money follows the child to the school, because the child creates the demand for resources — supplies, teachers, space, etc. The presence or lack of choice schools doesn’t add or subtract funding from traditional public schools. In fact, some research shows a benefit because when students leave for choice schools, their former public schools continue receiving their full allocation of local and federal dollars, meaning increased per-pupil funding for those students who stay.”
Americans for Prosperity-Florida, the Sunshine State’s chapter of the free market organization founded by billionaire businessman Charles Koch, also praised the vote via a statement from State Director Skylar Zander:
“We remain committed to working with anyone who believes that the status quo in education can be improved. S.B. 7070 is a significant first step in expanding educational freedom for all children. We urge the Senate to support this bill and look forward to continuing the conversation about providing educational opportunities to every child in Florida, regardless of their ZIP code or family income.”