Choices are reshaping Florida’s educational landscape, and the nation is taking notice

Derrell Bradford, executive director of the New Jersey-based Excellent Education for Everyone (E3) and possibly the hippest education reformer in America, told a National Summit audience Tuesday that there are only two ways to get your child in a school: You choose one, or your ZIP code chooses one for you. That formulation is the basis for radical change in this nation’s education landscape, and, on that measure, Florida is more than just host to this educational gathering. Its parents are choosing their child’s school at a rate that makes you stand up and take notice.

Roughly one of every three public schoolchildren in Florida now attend a school other than the one tied to their ZIP code. Take a look at the 2009-10 enrollment numbers associated with a dozen different options and remember that most of them didn’t even exist a generation ago.

315,173 use “open enrollment” to go to most any school in their district

225,081 attend fundamental schools, career options, academic and special programs

137,196 attend charter schools

124,278 choose private prekindergarten schools

106,985 attend career and professional academies

97,182 take online courses from Florida Virtual School

62,567 receive schooling at home

35,323 take dual enrollment courses at a community college or university

28,927 low-income students attend private schools on a Tax Credit Scholarship

20,926 disabled students attend private schools on a McKay Scholarship

18,549 transfer out of schools that state or federal guidelines deem as failing

10,675 attend International Baccalaureate schools

Here’s the pop quiz: Which of these options are public and which are private? And now the bonus question: Does it really matter?

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BY Jon East

Jon East is special projects director for Step Up For Students. Previously, he was a member of the editorial board and the Sunday commentary editor at the St. Petersburg Times, Florida’s largest daily newspaper, where he wrote about education issues for most of his 28 years at the paper. He was also a reporter and editor at the Evening Independent and Ocala Star-Banner. He earned a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Enjoy your posts. Certainly more foreward thinking than most blogs and open to reform.

Diane Hanfmann

While your stats may be true, it is also true that Florida’s grade 12 NAEP scores fell below the national average in both Reading and Math. This student group would have been exposed to many years of Jeb’s reform, Why tout bad results to other states or continue a losing set of strategies in Florida?

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