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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Universal School Choice Bill

March 27, 2023

One year ago this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into the law the country’s most robust Academic Transparency legislation to date to help protect students from radical political content in K-12 education. Today, Gov. DeSantis and state lawmakers delivered on the second pillar of educational freedom, with the governor signing into law a universal education savings account (ESA) program modeled on the Goldwater Institute’s blueprint of offering school choice to every family that wants it.

With Gov. DeSantis’ signature, Florida has become the nation’s largest state to offer every student access to an ESA, cementing the Sunshine State’s record on education. Indeed, since the governor ordered the reopening of schools in 2020 against the demands of teachers unions and their allies on the left, Florida has provided a model for prioritizing parents and students against a progressive establishment agenda in both K-12 and higher education. Indeed, from ensuring access to high quality K-12 opportunities free from radical gender ideology, to taking on leftwing college campus administrators, Florida has continued to advance actual academic rigor and American exceptionalism amid a wave of “woke” programming nationwide.

The Goldwater Institute—which pioneered the Academic Transparency approach, developed the first ESA blueprint, and co-released the model policy to dismantle “diversity, equity, and inclusion “(DEI) bureaucracies in higher education—welcomes the ongoing adoption of these powerful policy tools in Florida and across the nation.

Unlike their peers throughout much of the country, Florida students were not subjected to the extreme lockdown measures that deprived children of reliable in-person instruction for the better part of two years. But now, all Florida students will have full access not only to in-person public instruction, but also private options. Indeed, thanks to the legislation signed this week, every child eligible to enroll in a public K-12 program will likewise be automatically eligible for the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program and able to apply their funds toward tutoring services, private school tuition, textbooks, and more.

With Florida’s new legislation going into effect, six states will have enacted universal school choice and broken the left’s education monopoly within their borders. It is essential that others look to such leadership and take up the fight for their kids as well.

Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy at the Goldwater Institute. He also serves as director of the institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy.



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