Special report: A taste of a la carte learning

One of the best education stories in America is the shift from school choice to education choice. The best place to see it is an hour north of Miami.

Humming, hustling South Florida – and Broward County in particular – has rightly earned national buzz for its blossoming array of microschools. But as we highlight in a new white paper, the region is also home to another fascinating new species of little learning option: the a la carte provider.

A la carte providers focus on a single subject or niche such as coding, cooking, or science. In South Florida, dozens of them are already serving thousands of students.

Many partner with microschools to complement their programming. Others are mixed and matched by homeschool parents alongside other providers. The potential variants and combinations are endless.

To get a sample of what these providers are doing, check out this video at the top of this post.

The rest of America might be amazed to see public education look like this. In Florida, we’ve seen it coming.

Over the past 10 years, thousands of Florida parents have been pioneering state-supported a la carte learning, ever since Florida created its first ESA. Now with education choice universal, tens of thousands of parents are joining them.

To be sure, many parents will continue to choose the whole package of a school. In choice-rich Florida, those options are getting better all the time. But if, for whatever reason, parents want to personalize a learning program for their children, they can choose that path, too.

South Florida is showing what’s possible when they do.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director of Research & Special Projects 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).

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