Education /

Gov. DeSantis Signs Universal School Choice Bill Into Law

Legislation expands educational options for families and allows parents to direct state education funds to private schools

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a universal school choice bill, making Florida the fourth state in the country to enact universal school choice.

The landmark legislation, HB 1, allows families to use state education funds to pay for private school tuition and other costs associated with education, while also expanding a previous school choice program that was only available to families in lower income brackets.

“Florida is number one when it comes to education freedom and education choice, and today’s bill signing represents the largest expansion of education choice in the history of these United States. When you combine private scholarships, charter schools, and district choice programs, Florida already has 1.3 million students attending a school of their choosing,” DeSantis said in a joint statement with other state officials. “These programs have been instrumental in elevating student achievement over the past twenty years. I am grateful to the Florida Legislature, Speaker Renner, and President Passidomo for prioritizing this legislation and presenting it to me at the beginning of this year’s legislative session.”

The school choice movement has grown significantly over the past three years, driven largely by parents who were able to see details of what children were being taught while doing remote learning at home amid pandemic school closures.

So far this year, more than 50 pieces of school choice legislation have been proposed.

“This is a monumental day in Florida history,” Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. said in the statement. “Thanks to Governor DeSantis and the legislature, we continue to be the undisputed leader in school choice. Florida will always make good on our promise to ensure every single child has access to a world- class education.”

The bill was vehemently opposed by teachers unions.

“Florida’s families overwhelmingly count on their neighborhood public schools as the best place for their children to get the education they deserve and need. HB 1 will siphon billions away from the schools where nearly 90 percent of Florida’s students learn and grow,” Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andrew Spar said in a press release. “This bill will leave children with fewer resources in their already underfunded classrooms and fewer teachers and staff to meet their needs. Sending tax dollars to unaccountable, corporate-run private schools is just wrong.”

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