Focus Shifts to Accountability as Florida House Votes to Expand School Choice Program


A bill that was both supported and opposed on the grounds of accountability passed the Florida House Wednesday.

HB 7045, which will combine two school choice voucher programs and expand eligibility for parents to choose where their children go to school, passed by a vote of 79-36. It will expand Florida’s voucher program to enroll 60,000 more students.

Star News Education Foundation Journalism Project
Four Democrats joined all of the Republicans in the state House to pass the bill, sponsored by Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay).

“It’s not about low income anymore,” Fine said during the floor debate. “You can make up to $100,000. We are now creating that option, for more people to make the right decision for them so schools can be accountable to parents.”


Some Democrats disagreed with Fine’s notion of accountability. Those Democrats say that the private schools to which funds are diverted for school choice vouchers cannot be held accountable by the legislature, since private schools are not subject to the grading and testing standards as public schools.

“The lack of accountability has created dozens, if not hundreds, of new schools that only exist because of these voucher programs, and how will we ever know if voucher programs really work?” Rep. Kamia Brown (D-Orlando) asked during the House proceedings.

Still, the measure passed by a wide margin, and will head to the Senate.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is a strong proponent of school choice vouchers, and has focused on quality education for low-income students.

He signed another bill into law last June that quadruples the school voucher program annually.

“We worked really hard this year to deliver for students and families,” he said at the time, adding that “we also were mindful of a lot of our low-income families that needed a little help to get their children into schools that best meet their needs.”

In 2019, he signed the “Family Empowerment Scholarship” program into law. That program budgeted $130 million in state funds to send 18,000 low-income students to private schools.

– – –

Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].










Related posts