Two states, Florida and Indiana, are talking about radical school reforms advancing parental choice, and in both cases these changes seem very possible.
The St. Petersburg Times and CBS news have both reported Governor-Elect Rick Scott’s recent remarks at a rally in front of hundreds of students receiving publicly leveraged scholarships. The Times led off by saying:
Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott on Thursday blew the door wide open to the idea of a voucherlike program for all students, saying he’s working with lawmakers to allow state education dollars to follow a student to the school his or her parents choose.
He did not use the term vouchers. Others called it an “education savings account.”
But whatever it’s called, the incoming governor, key lawmakers and a foundation tied to former Gov. Jeb Bush are setting the stage for Florida to consider one of the most radical education ideas that it — or arguably any state — has ever considered.
Florida already expends more publicly funded dollars and gives out more publicly supported scholarships than any other State in the Union. And along with the cocktail of other cutting edge education policies, its leadership in parental choice is making Florida one of the highest performing and fastest improving states in k-12 education in the country. Matt Ladner at Jay P Greene blog has covered this topic extensively. But Florida is just getting started. Its Tax-Credit scholarship program is in the midst of a major expansion, from 33,000 low-income students at present to a projected 80,000 students within the next 4 years and a whopping $400 million dollars annually in scholarship funding. This more universal “bank-account” approach is just the newest in a string of good policy ideas to empower parents and bring broad choices into the educational system.
In Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels is talking about a considerable set of education reforms, and among them is a voucher program. Though its been kept rather quite thus far, the Daily Reporter covered Governor Daniels remarks to the press after a recent Roundtable meeting on new proposed education policies.
Daniels and Bennett didn’t mention controversial private school vouchers until talking with reporters after the Roundtable meeting. Daniels said his agenda will include a bill to allow state money to go to private schools to help low-income students attend. He said he hasn’t firmed up details, including what income level would be required to qualify for vouchers.
Though Indiana already possesses a fledgling tuition tax-credit program, it has been slow in getting geared up in its first year of implementation. A new voucher program could launch Indiana toward the front of robust parental choice States. As my Indiana is my home these days, I’m pretty excited about the prospects!