On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping universal school choice bill into law.
According to Yahoo News, DeSantis said at the signing, "Today's bill signing cements us in that number one position because we’ll be signing legislation which will represent the largest expansion of education choice not only in the history of this state but in the history of these United States. That is a big deal."
House Bill 1 expands eligibility for school choice vouchers to every student in Florida and enables the funds to be used by families for other expenses related to their child's education beyond just tuition.
The law states "a parent of a student may request and receive from the state a scholarship…if the student is a resident of this state and is eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 in a public school in this state."
The expansion opens the vouchers to students from families of all income levels. The previous school voucher system implemented caps for availability based on income and the new system continues to prioritize students from low-income families.
Families receive vouchers first if the income for their household falls below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. An example would be a family of four whose combined income was $51,000.
DeSantis said, "If you just look at the private scholarships that students in Florida have been able to utilize and these are mostly low-income families, also middle-income families, we represent one-third of the entire number of scholarship recipients in the entire country,
The new law also eliminates a waiting list that students with disabilities had to wait on, giving them a higher priority.
The new bill is estimated to cost $2.2 billion and DeSantis said the new bill will strengthen Florida in pursuing quality education for the next generation.
The bill also revised Florida’s Education Code and makes it easier for people with a bachelor's degree or with equivalent experience to attain a five-year temporary teacher certificate. The law also improves student transportation options with a new focus on safety and efficiency in travel.
Since he took office Governor DeSantis has been a supporter of parental rights and passed his Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation. The bill keeps conversations about sexuality out of elementary school classrooms between kindergarten through third grade, and was erroneously dubbed the "don't say gay" bill by activists.
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