While Kansas parents wait, Florida, other states expand school choice

Urban Christian Academy in Kansas City, Kansas, is one of 228 schools in the state serving more than 42,400 students. Urban Christian is a tuition-free school that seeks to provide a holistic education marked by academic excellence where students are exposed to Jesus and nurtured to become leaders in their communities.

Editor’s note: This article appeared Monday on readlion.com.

While Kansas parents wait to see if the Kansas Legislature and Governor Laura Kelly will give them the opportunity to decide where their children go to school, Florida is expanding an already robust choice program to every parent in the state.

“The State of Florida is No. 1 when it comes to education freedom and education choice. And today’s bill signing cements us in that No. 1 position,” The Tampa Bay Times reported DeSantis said during a ceremony held at a Miami private school.

According to the Times, DeSantis noted that 1.3 million children in Florida use some sort of choice, whether vouchers, charter schools or district options such as magnets. “That empowers parents … to find the best school for their child,” the governor said.

The Florida bill eliminates financial eligibility restrictions and the current enrollment cap. Florida already has more students using their choice program than the entire K-12 enrollment of 35 other states.

Iowa and Utah passed bills early this year — both of which were signed into law — followed by Arkansas earlier this month.

The Kansas House of Representatives passed the “Sunflower Education Equity Act” in SB 83 in mid-March, but it has yet to be ratified in the Senate.

House Substitute for Senate Bill 83, which — because the House passed as a substitute bill — will only require the “concurrence” of the Senate, rather than being returned to committee, provides an additional $72 million in special education funding, addresses teacher shortages and retention challenges with teacher pay increases, gives smaller schools flexibility and time to adjust to any attendance fluctuations and — most importantly — would provide Education Savings Accounts to parents across the state.

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BY Special to NextSteps