School choice advocates in Florida achieved a big win recently when Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that significantly expands choices for families of students with special needs, students reading significantly below grade level, and students who have been bullied or harassed.
The legislation, House Bill 7055, created two new choice programs. The first, called the Hope Scholarship Program, allows students who have been bullied or harassed to receive a scholarship to attend the public or private school of their choice. The program sets aside $40 million that would be funded through an optional tax credit allocation when purchasing a vehicle. School safety and bullying is often cited as one of the main reasons that parents choose to send their child to a new school.
The legislation also sets aside $9.7 million in funding to create Reading Scholarship Accounts for students in grades 3-5 who struggle on state reading tests. The accounts allows a student’s parents to spend up to $500 on tutors, books, summer programs, or other reading assistance programs. Both of these programs are the first-of-their-kind in the nation.
Additionally, the legislation expands the funding sources for the state’s Gardiner Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships for severely disabled students to attend a school that can better fit their needs.
PIE Network partner ExcelinEd praised the signing of the bill for bringing Florida one step closer to educational freedom. “I applaud Governor Scott and members of the Florida Legislature for expanding educational freedom in our state,” said Jeb Bush, ExcelinEd’s chairman of the board. “Not only will Florida families benefit, but these common sense solutions will provide a model for other states to effectively and compassionately prepare each and every student for success in the classroom and in life.”
Are you interested in finding out which other states are working on similar school choice issues? Reach out!