Florida No. 1 in parent-directed public education funding

Florida is now the No. 1 state in the nation for parent-directed public education funding, according to data compiled by EdChoice.

During the 2023-24 school year, the Sunshine State carried out the largest expansion of K-12 education choice scholarships in the nation’s history, making all families eligible for scholarships and broadening allowable uses.

As a result, families using its three main scholarship programs now direct 8% of current public education funding to learning options of their choice.

That increase was enough to push Florida a few tenths of a percentage point ahead of Arizona, the previous No. 1.

The EdChoice analysis projects the latest federal education spending data, from 2021, for the current year based on recent history. It excludes funding for public-school buildings and debt service. It also adds up the total scholarship spending for each state, and then calculates what percentage of total spending goes to scholarships.

Nationwide, scholarship programs still account for less than 1% of total K-12 spending, according to the report, but their share is growing.

Among states, Florida and Arizona remain far in the lead. The state with the third-highest share of family-directed funding is Wisconsin, with less than 5%, and no other state allows families to direct more than 3% of its public education operational funding.

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BY Travis Pillow

Travis Pillow is Director of Thought Leadership at Step Up For Students and editor of NextSteps. He lives in Sanford, Fla. with his wife and two children. A former Tallahassee statehouse reporter, he most recently worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization at Arizona State University, where he studied community-led learning innovation and school systems' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. He can be reached at tpillow (at) sufs.org.

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