Bill That Expands Public School Vouchers Advances

TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) — Students in public schools rated “D” or “F” would be able to transfer to a better-rated public school in their district or any other district in the state under a bill approved unanimously by the House K-20 Innovation Committee on Tuesday.

The measure (HB 1331) expands the definition of a failing school and allows students to transfer after a school has received a “D” for two school years in a four-year period or and an “F” for one school year in a two-year period.

It also mandates that if a child transfers to a better-rated school in their district, that the district has to provide transportation. This measure expands upon the Opportunity Scholarships established by the Legislature in 1999.

The portion that allowed students to transfer to private schools was shut down after the Florida Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

Opportunity Scholarships still exist, but only allow public school students in failing schools to transfer to other highly-rated public schools.

Patricia Levesque, the executive director of the former Gov. Jeb Bush-backed Foundation for Florida’s Future, which advocates for school vouchers, said 1,400 students statewide have Opportunity Scholarships.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

  • dp

    Here’s an idea…instead of putting a band-aid on this situation, how about FIXING THE PROBLEM? What happens when these students are done with their “voucher time?” They go back to a D or F school again? Get rid of ineffective administrators and teachers, give the schools whatever books and equipment they are lacking, and start going after parents for not showing up to parent conferences, etc. Everyone involved needs to be held accountable. When a school fails, the public assumes it’s always the teacher’s fault—what about the parents and the community? Do parents show up for conferences? Do they try to work with their kids at home? I think the state uses the voucher approach because it knows it can’t make the parents do anything, and it’s hands are tied when it comes to firing unionized teachers. Meanwhile, these kids lose out on a decent education.

  • Rivers Cuomo

    Well put…notice also this Bill is for D and F scoring schools. What about schools that get B’s and C’s. How are they held accountable and what is to motivate all involved to perform better?

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