BRIEF: School Choice in the States July 2014

Florida – Stephanie Linn @StephanieJLinn

The Florida Education Association (FEA) filed a lawsuit challenging a newly enacted law that includes an education savings account (ESA) for students with special needs—called the Personal Learning Scholarship Account—along with an expansion of the existing Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The FEA contends the law violates a state constitutional requirement that each piece of legislation be limited to a single subject. Attorneys from the Goldwater Institute are seeking to intervene on behalf of six families with children who would qualify for the ESA.

Within one month of the enactment of Florida’s school choice bill, the state has awarded 1,300 scholarships and has had more than 2,000 applications for ESAs for the 2014-15 school year, according to Step Up For Students, a nonprofit administering both programs.

North Carolina – Doran Moreland @Dmoreland9

The North Carolina House passed a $21.25 billion state budget giving teachers an average 7 percent pay raise. Included in the budget is $840,000 in additional funding for the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Those funds will cover approximately 400 more low-income students in the spring 2015 semester with priority going to those who applied for the Opportunity Scholarship Program but did not receive a scholarship for the fall 2014 semester due to high demand. That funding increase raises the family household income eligibility from $41,000 to $59,000 annually.

Tennessee – Stephanie Linn @StephanieJLinn

The Friedman Foundation participated in a panel discussion called “Education Opportunities: A Path Forward for Students in Tennessee” hosted in Nashville. Panelists included Stephanie Linn, a state programs and government relations director at the Friedman Foundation; Jonathan Butcher, education director at the Goldwater Institute; Justin Owen, president and CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee; and Dr. Steve Perry, principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School.