New guide to private school choice

friedman guideThe Friedman Foundation’s latest “ABCs of School Choice” guide is out, and the numbers go like this: 21 states, 39 programs, 255,000 kids.

The guide offers a state-by-state rundown of the publicly funded, school choice options that are a vital piece of the overall school choice picture. It includes profiles of the students, parents and teachers who benefit from them. And it presents some thought-provoking stats, like how the value of each choice option compares to per-pupil funding in traditional public schools.

In Florida, a tax credit scholarship for low-income students is 34 percent of what’s spent on a traditional public school student, according to the Friedman analysis. Our own back-of-the-envelope calculations would put the percentage slightly higher, but the point is spot on: “voucher” students receive far less for their education than their public school peers. It’s a relevant detail that deserves more attention as the debate unfolds over testing for scholarship students and regulatory accountability measures for the private schools that enroll them.

The Florida section of the guide also includes a mini-profile of Davion Manuel-McKenney, a former tax-credit scholarship student who is now a freshman at Florida State College at Jacksonville. (Full disclosure: the tax-credit program is administered by Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.) The story of Davion and his mother is a moving one. Click here to read more about it.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at