DeSantis to Drastically Change School Voucher Programs. What Does it Mean for Parents?

Toni Koraza
Photo byPhoto 139573436 / Florida © Jiawangkun |

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law allowing K-12 students in Florida to receive taxpayer-funded education vouchers or savings accounts, creating one of the nation's biggest school choice programs.

The law expands the state's voucher system by removing income eligibility limits on the program. Critics and Democrats have said the legislation has an unsettled price tag, amounts to a subsidy for the rich, and could hurt public schools.

The "school choice movement" first took off in the United States in the 1990s. It has recently gained momentum again because of the coronavirus pandemic, school closures, and continuing cultural discussions about gender and racial issues in education.

DeSantis has made removing what he calls "liberal ideology" in education a primary point of his conservative agenda. He said there would be a preference for low and middle-income families. Still, it should be directed according to what the parent believes is the most appropriate educational program for their child.

Republican House Speaker Paul Renner prioritized the bill, and the GOP-controlled state Legislature moved quickly to pass it.

On Monday, Renner said the new law would authorize parents to send children to alternative schools where their faith and values are respected.

The Sunshine State started its voucher program to aid parents in paying for private schools more than twenty years ago under Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. It has passed several laws to expand it over the subsequent three Republican administrations.

Two years ago, DeSantis signed a law increasing income requirements to obtain vouchers to 375% of the federal poverty level. On Monday, the Florida Governor said 1.3 million children in the Sunshine State attend a school their parents chose.

Other states are also making vouchers available to all students despite family income levels.

What do you think about the new voucher program in Florida?

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