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Florida Launches New Website to Supplement School Choice Policy

Image from Florida Students Achieve

Florida is continuing to expand upon its position as a proud leader in the school choice movement with the launch of a new website that provides families with easy access to school and district data.

Found at www.FloridaStudentsAchieve.org, the site was designed to supplement parental decisions regarding what school is best for their children; a central principle of the school choice movement is that it allows parents to receive more power in their child’s education.

"...the website’s primary functions," says FloridaTrend.com, "is the school performance search tool, which ultimately enables parents to search by district, zip code, city or other geographic data view and then compare school and district data."

"I am confident that this new tool will revolutionize the way students and parents learn about the schools in their area and throughout the state," State Board of Education Chair Marva Johnson said to Florida Trend.

"I commend the department for responding to the needs of Florida’s families with this informative, intuitive and transparent website, and I look forward to its continuous development," she said.

Under "Florida School Choices," the website allows parents to browse through the variety of educational options they have for their children.

"Competition tends to have a positive impact on school performance! As the number of educational choice options continues to expand in Florida, things can get a little confusing for parents. The information here is intended to help you make sense of all the great options available for your student at any grade level," the site says.

Thus far, the site defines educational options as:

  • District-managed public schools
  • Charter schools
  • Home education
  • Virtual education
  • Private schools
  • Scholarship programs

The website is launching almost a year before school choice will be an option for all Florida families. In April, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law an education bill that will allow all Florida public school students to attend any school with space available starting in the 2017-2018 school year.

"The open enrollment provisions will affect all public schools, allowing students to attend any school in the state that hasn't reached capacity. The law gives preference to students living in the district, students moving because their parents are active-duty military personnel or students moving because of foster care placement or court-ordered custody arrangements," says The Tampa Bay Times.

The legislation solidifies Florida’s commitment to school choice, something it had been dabbling with for years. In March 2015, a report estimated that 27 percent of Florida K-12 students had already chosen a school to attend other than the one they were assigned. 

School choice has risen to the forefront of the national conversation after President-elect Donald Trump selected prominent school choice advocate Betsy DeVos for the position of Education Secretary.

While school choice is growing in popularity as a movement and among education reformers, it has been the object of loud criticism from public school supporters, perhaps most vocally from the leaders of the nation’s largest teachers unions.

Read more about Florida’s new website here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

12/1/2016

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