TALLAHASSEE (LifeSiteNews) — Florida governor and likely Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis signed universal school choice into law Monday, the latest in his long string of actions to reform education in the Sunshine State.
HB 1 creates an Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program giving families vouchers worth up to $8,000 to be spent on enrolling their children in schools of their choice outside the public education system. The new law expands Florida’s existing school choice program, which was previously available only to low-income families or disabled students, to all Florida students. Income level will still determine the order in which vouchers are distributed.
“Florida is number one when it comes to education freedom and education choice, and today’s bill signing represents the largest expansion of education choice in the history of these United States,” the governor said. “When you combine private scholarships, charter schools, and district choice programs, Florida already has 1.3 million students attending a school of their choosing. These programs have been instrumental in elevating student achievement over the past twenty years. I am grateful to the Florida Legislature, Speaker Renner, and President Passidomo for prioritizing this legislation and presenting it to me at the beginning of this year’s legislative session.”
Gov. DeSantis Signs School Choice Legislation https://t.co/WMWAs96csy
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 27, 2023
“With this bill signing, Ron DeSantis just reclaimed Florida’s school choice crown. Florida is the biggest state that empowers all families with education freedom,” American Federation For Children Senior Fellow Corey DeAngelis told Fox News. “DeSantis is no longer just ‘America’s Governor.’ He just cemented himself as the Parents’ Governor, too.”
The school choice expansion, part of an ambitious legislative session that is currently underway, is the latest move in DeSantis’s ongoing efforts to follow through on the promises he made in his second inaugural address to continue getting ideological proselytization out of education and more thoroughly making Florida the place “where woke goes to die.”
He has taken numerous actions to prohibit critical race theory and age-inappropriate sexual discussions from classrooms and help elect like-minded conservatives to local school boards, as well as force compliance with state standards such as keeping restrooms sex-specific. Last month, he proposed legislation to impose new standards on colleges and universities pertaining to accountability, historical accuracy, and prohibiting ideological indoctrination or the enforcement of ideological conformity.
Such actions have reinforced DeSantis’ record as arguably the most proactive conservative governor in the nation, which has generated significant interest in him as a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.