By signing S.B. 7070 into law yesterday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis set his state on the path to further decimate its public schools through an unprecedented expansion of private school vouchers.
Florida already diverts nearly $1 billion of scarce public funds to unaccountable, under-regulated private schools each year through several different voucher programs. This massive diversion of public funds has led the state to fall from 24th among states in per-pupil funding to the bottom 10.
And even as Florida has spent more than any other state on private school vouchers, these programs have not proven to be successful, either in Florida or elsewhere. Research, in fact, shows a negative impact on academic achievement across the country. What’s more, private schools participating in Florida’s voucher programs are not held to the same standards, educational or otherwise, as public schools.
We do have evidence about what works to ensure all students have opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive: investing in schools that value collaboration between educators, families, and communities, and focusing on wraparound supports like health care, counseling, after-school programs, and other neighborhood services.
Yet DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have chosen to set up dueling, non-uniform systems, where communities and their schools compete with private school vouchers for resources – and lose.
Florida’s 3 million schoolchildren deserve better. Every child in Florida deserves a thriving public school – and a government that will work toward this goal.
Read more about the bill in this letter we sent urging DeSantis to veto the legislation.
Photo by Lynne Sladky/AP Images