The Florida chapter of the National School Choice Parent Organization (PSO Florida) is recognizing Florida’s top spot on the Parent Power Index, which evaluates states on access to school choice and educational innovation.
“Whether it’s virtual, in-person, homeschooling, private, public or charter schools, parents should remain the sole decision-maker about their child’s education,” the group wrote in a statement responding to the latest ranking.
The ranking showed Florida ranked at the top of the nation for digital and personalized learning and access to choice programs such as scholarships, vouchers and tax credits. It ranked second in the nation for access to charter schools and third in teacher quality.
The ranking gave Florida high marks for its COVID-19 response, noting that “Florida was among the leaders in the state responses … actively demanding that all students continue to learn.”
It also praised the state education system for its transparency, particularly because “school and district report cards are easy to access.”
But the state was found lacking on constitutional issues. The ranking took issue with Florida’s Blaine Amendment, which prohibits the use of public funds for private schools. The ranking noted that it “has been used twice to strike down an Opportunity Scholarship Program.”
PSO Florida noted opportunities for continued improvement.
“The state has made tremendous gains in expanding access to in-person private, public and charter schools, but more work needs to be done to expand access to high-quality full-time online schools,” the group wrote. “We intend to work with school choice champions in the legislature to advocate for statutory changes that enable more families to access important educational options, including full-time online learning.”
Several parents who are also members of the group touted the benefits of access to choice programs.
“Without my choice of giving my daughter a virtual education, she may not have finished at the top of her class and, more importantly, not graduated high school with her AA degree. Florida must continue to reform education policies and funding so that we can enhance online learning,” PSO Florida Steering Committee Chair Melissa Lay said.
Steering Committee member Leslie Pavluk likewise noted that “being forced into an in-person educational setting did not work” for her children, and that virtual school allowed her children to “excel at schoolwork, music and activities that have made them well-rounded individuals.”
Another Steering Committee member, Gail Seago, said her children utilized home-schooling, and she praised Florida lawmakers for ensuring laws that protect that access.
“I strongly encourage policymakers to provide learning options to our students, especially by expanding their access to hybrid, online and remote learning — not reducing choice,” she said.
Parent Power credited Gov. Ron DeSantis for Florida’s best-in-the-nation ranking.
“Governor Ron DeSantis made education his cause célèbre again this year, which caused his win by a huge margin in diverse communities that don’t normally go for a Republican,” the organization wrote in its ranking, referencing DeSantis’ November blowout at the ballot box.
“Both statewide and nationally DeSantis is known for his commitment to education freedom and innovation,” the statement continued, adding the group “can’t wait to see what happens in the Sunshine state over the next four years.”
Parent Power similarly praised the “majority pro-parent power” Legislature.
“The body’s vocal efforts encouraged public schools to safely reopen for millions of kids months before other states did and over time have fostered innovations in teaching, learning, digital and higher education,” the report read.
December 14, 2022 at 9:32 am
Parent power translates to:
1. 50% of third graders who can’t read!
2. Florida classrooms absent thousands of qualified teachers, because educators have left the profession because of DeSantis policies.
3. Florida and red state Arizona are the ONLY STATES forced to hire less than qualified college dropouts to teach in classrooms. The minimum requirement to get a teaching job in Florida is two years of College.
4. Florida ranks as one of the lowest K-12 educator salary in the USA.
5. Twenty years of failed Republican leadership in Florida is obvious.
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