Governor DeSantis signs bill that expands Florida school voucher system.
The current Family Empowerment Scholarship will not have financial restrictions, however the state will use a need hierarchy tier for priority for funding. The priority for funding will go first to the lowest income, then will continue up the income scale. There is only so much money in the pool for scholarships so it is essentially those that apply by the deadline and meet the income priorities to get funding. There is also numerous other scholarships offered by the state for special needs, bullying and reading levels. As boosted in the video, Florida leads the country in the voucher system offering the most scholarships for private education.
The voucher program is a move to defund or privatize public education. There are some serious long term effects on groups of minorities, students with exceptionalities, and low socio-economic families. When low income families do not have access to information on education or educational opportunities it shuts them out of new or better opportunities. Further, private institutions have the right to accept or deny any student.
I’m in no way politically motivated to argue the voucher system. The problem faced by many people. We work for the government or public education but benefit from using the voucher scholarship program. My son benefits greatly from the scholarship provided by the state. We still have to pay out of pocket to make up the rest of the tuition but we do it because the educational opportunity is so much better than what the public school would or could offer my child. Anger; was my main feeling for so long regarding ot how little support and education was available to my child. I fought but stopped when it came to having the money to get a lawyer. So, I shifted and took the money from the state and left. So, in a way the school district won. I went away; my problem child went way, all the ways I made life difficult went away. I was someon elses problem. Well, I’m not a problem at my son’s current school. I’m part of the solution. I’m part of the success. I’m part of the mission to make a life of meaning, purpose and joy. How could I not love and encourage a program that has provided so much opportunity?
Then I see the public schools struggle. I see the kids in the classrooms struggle. I see the teachers struggle to support their class and students.
Honestly, education is not equal. The opportunities that some communities have over others because of where they live is wrong. The lottery. I need to win the lottery to improve the school my child attends. Isn’t that insane?! In our district, if you want a different program or school that offers more specialized education (think art, STEM, STEAM) you have to apply for a seat. The seats are randomly assigned a number and wait list. Most of the magnet programs are in areas that require transportation by the parents that would be 20 minutes of travel. However, in our area there are mulitple private schools within our zip code. Utilizing the scholarship or voucher has enabled my daughter to get smaller class sizes, field trips, new electives, and rigor in curriculum.
Why can’t public schools be funded?
Why can’t public schools meet the needs for all children?
I feel like instead of fixing and funding schools the current administration wants the problem to go away. By go away, go to a private school because that is not the state’s responsibility. So, no longer the state’s problem. If you don’t complain, if you don’t act like a squeaking wheel, you won’t get any attention.
What do we do now? How do we save our children? How do we save public education?
I’m part of the problem that needs fixing! I’ve taken my voucher or ticket or gift certificate and cashed it in for tuition at a private school. I’m admitting it. I’m recognizing my contribution and I wish it didn’t have to be so. I wish my children had a chance to have quality public education in my neighborhood without district applications for special programs and lotteries.
My hope is that I can join many others in conversations about policies and education so that Florida can continue to see public education supported by its residence and the state.