Starting in 2017-18, Florida’s public school students will be able to choose to attend any school within the state that has space available, due to a large education bill that Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law. This measure, beginning July 1, will also let high school athletes have immediate eligibility when transferring schools, and it will subject charter schools to more accountability and a new formula for receiving capital dollars.
Let’s break down the most important factors about this new “school choice” law:
- Parents and students will be able to find an education solution that best fits their needs by expanding Florida’s school choice options.
- 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.
- There are rules to the open enrollment option: the new school must have room, parents must provide transportation and the student must not be under an expulsion or suspension order.
- Florida parents can pick any public school in the state for their children, hopscotching over traditional attendance lines and county boundaries.
- Under the new law parents are able to move students to single-gender programs, lab schools, virtual instruction programs, charter schools and charter technical career centers, as possible options, the bill stated.
This bill was in part inspired by the state of Colorado, which has had an open enrollment law for over a decade. Nearly 10% of Colorado’s public school students now attend school outside the district where they live, according to the Colorado Department of Education. This open-enrollment law is used predominately by students from middle-and-upper-class families, who switch from high-performing schools to even higher achieving ones.
Overall, it is exciting to see Florida grow in terms of educational reform. Tell us- do you agree with this new bill?