The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman's Vision of School Choice for All Children

School Choice in Florida

Summary

Florida has three private school choice programs (vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and education savings accounts). The state also has a charter school law and enables public virtual schooling. Limited open enrollment exists, both for intradistrict and interdistrict public school choice.

Laws and Regulations Governing Private Schools

Constitutionality

In an unprecedented decision, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the state’s groundbreaking Opportunity Scholarships voucher program for children in chronically failing public schools. The court declared that the program violated the state Constitution’s education article, specifically the requirement to provide a “uniform” public education. Contrary to state supreme courts in Wisconsin and Ohio, the Florida court decided that the legislature may not provide educational options beyond those in the public schools. Still, the court limited its decision to vouchers only, leaving untouched Florida’s other school choice programs.

Earlier in the same case, a Florida appellate court struck down Opportunity Scholarships under the state’s Blaine Amendment. That ruling ran counter to years of Florida Supreme Court rulings on the Blaine Amendment permitting “incidental” benefits to religious organizations as the by-product of programs designed to advance the general welfare. The Florida Supreme Court did not review that issue, and the validity of the appellate court’s holding is unclear under Florida law.

Despite the uncertainties surrounding vouchers, tax credit programs are completely consistent with the Florida constitution, even as interpreted by Holmes, because they involve private rather than public funds.

–Quote from the Institute for Justice (April 2007)

School Choice Programs

Personal Learning Scholarship Account Program

Enacted 2014 • Launched 2014

Florida’s Personal Learning Scholarship Account program allows students with special needs an opportunity to receive an account funded by the state and administered by an approved scholarship-funding organization. Parents can use the funds to pay for a... Read More

Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Enacted 2001 • Launched 2001

Florida provides a tax credit on corporate income taxes and insurance premium taxes for donations to Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs), nonprofits that provide scholarships for low-income students and children in foster care and offer funds for... Read More

John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program

Enacted as a Pilot Program 1999 • Expanded 2000

Florida’s John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program allows public school students with disabilities or 504 plans to receive vouchers to attend private schools or other public schools. Read More

Research

Public Rules on Private Schools: Measuring the Regulatory Impact of State Statutes and School Choice Programs

5/30/2014

Is regulatory creep a fate that awaits all school choice programs? With the number of those programs doubling over the past five years, the need for context and understanding is critical.   This report provides a framework for understanding the... Read More

Sector Switchers: Why Catholic Schools Convert to Charters and What Happens Next

4/29/2014

For decades, Catholic schools, particularly inner-city Catholic schools, have seen declines in enrollment and an increasing need for subsidies from their dioceses. Many dioceses, however, have been unable to shoulder that burden, forcing schools to... Read More

The Greenfield School Revolution and School Choice

6/5/2012

The recent explosion of educational innovation has focused primarily on creating wholly new models of what a school can be. From KIPP to Carpe Diem, education is entering a revolutionary period driven by the reinvention of the entire school rather than... Read More

An Empirical Evaluation of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program

8/6/2009

This study examines the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, one of the nation’s largest school choice programs. It is the first ever completed empirical evaluation of a tax-credit scholarship program, a type of program that creates school... Read More

Lost Opportunity: An Empirical Analysis of How Vouchers Affected Florida Public Schools

3/25/2008

The impact of Florida’s “A+” accountability program, which until 2006 included a voucher program for chronically failing schools, on public school performance has been extensively studied. The results have consistently shown a positive... Read More

Florida’s Public Education Spending

1/1/2006

This study analyzes and explains Florida’s education finance system. It finds that Florida spent about $7,000 per student in day-to-day operating costs (“current expenditures”) in 2003-04, and a total of about $8,700 per student on all... Read More

 

News

4/29/2014 Study: Catholic schools "switching" to charters serve more students, minorities
4/15/2014 Breaking the ice for a growing school choice plan to bloom
11/7/2013 Orlando Sentinel | To improve education in Florida, follow the money
8/19/2013 Washington Times | Five cheers for choice
8/15/2013 Sharing your story in “The ABCs” can be as easy as one, two, three
10/24/2012 Tampa Bay Times | Non-Instructional Staff Grows Faster Than Student Population, New Study Shows
10/12/2012 Forbes.com | Can Education Savings Accounts Level The Playing Field For All American Students?
9/18/2012 Enlow | Families Want School Choice; N.C. Should Give it to Them
6/27/2012 Wall Street Journal | Class Struggle
6/12/2012 New York Times | Vouchers Unspoken, Romney Hails School Choice
5/9/2012 A “Fund”amental Fact of School Choice
4/6/2012 AP | School Vouchers Spark Growing Court Fights in US
3/8/2012 Study Shows Louisiana Students Can Benefit From More School Choice
11/3/2011 Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Georgia Can Return to Leading Role in Giving Students Choices
10/28/2011 State Impact | OK, Maybe Closing the Achievement Gap is a Big Deal
10/26/2011 New Study: Ohio Poised for Florida-Style Education Gains
8/19/2011 Yahoo! | Indiana School Voucher Program Facing Lawsuit
8/10/2011 DiPerna | Parents Snatching Up Vouchers and K-12 Scholarships for New School Year
8/10/2011 DiPerna | Parents Snatching Up Vouchers and K-12 Scholarships for New School Year
8/8/2011 Philadelphia Inquirer | Finding That Vouchers Have Little Impact on Student Achievement Do Not Deter Advocates
8/2/2011 AP | School Voucher Bills Flood GOP-led Statehouses
7/30/2011 Enlow | Friedman's Dream Unleashed
7/28/2011 Enlow | Is 2011 Milton Friedman's Year of School Choice?
7/5/2011 Wall Street Journal | The Year of School Choice
4/29/2011 Enlow | School Choice: Alive and Well
4/28/2011 Washington Times | States Leaving Feds Behind on School Reforms
4/5/2011 Orlando Sentinel | Arizona scholarship program upheld by U.S. Supreme Court, advocates say it gives “wide discretion” to lawmakers who want more choice programs
3/2/2011 Ladner | Tenn. Can Learn a Lot From Fla. on Education Reform
2/19/2011 Ladner | Parents should have option to choose nontraditional schools
2/9/2011 New Study: Florida Proves Tennessee Can Do Better for its Students
2/6/2011 National Review | The Education Ex-Governor
1/22/2011 Orlando Sentinel | Gov. Rick Scott's school-voucher push faces legal hurdles
8/10/2010 Nevada Business Journal | Sandoval’s having what Florida’s having
7/21/2010 Oklahoma academic performance suffers without widespread reform
9/2/2009 Florida’s Lessons for Indiana K-12 Reform
8/6/2009 Dramatically higher parental satisfaction found in Florida tax credit scholarship program
4/28/2009 Work to Offset Loss of School Vouchers
1/7/2009 How "No Child Left Behind" Threatens Florida's Successful Education Reforms
12/29/2008 To improve education, let parents choose schools
12/19/2008 Choice pays off
6/1/2008 Will Florida Voters Choose Freedom Over School Uniformity?
3/25/2008 Study Finds Loss of A+ Vouchers Hurts Public Schools
3/1/2008 Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: What's hot and what's not in the news (March 1)
8/5/2002 Florida Judge Defies High Court, Strikes Down Vouchers
10/3/2000 FL Appeals Court Unanimously Upholds State-Wide Voucher Program