State battered by requests for information on voucher expansion costs

by | Sep 14, 2023

  • The Florida Policy Institute is calling on the state’s Department of Education to disclose data on the number of private schools accepting vouchers, following a significant program expansion in July.
  • The non-profit organization aims to assess the impact of the new law, HB 1, which removed income eligibility requirements for vouchers and allowed home-schooled students to also benefit from the program.
  • Despite requests for this information from both the Florida Policy Institute and media outlets, the Department of Education has not yet released any related data.

A left-leaning advocacy group is making noise this week about Florida’s new voucher plan and what they say is a lack of transparency.  The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) wants the state’s Department of Education to release data on the growing number of private schools that have begun accepting vouchers since the expansion of the program in July.

The progressive non-profit organization, which has been critical of the expansion, aims to assess the impact of the new law (HB 1) that was approved earlier this year by the Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis. The law has significantly altered the landscape of educational funding by removing income eligibility criteria and by permitting home-schooled students to access vouchers.

“We recognize that not all children that are awarded scholarships will enroll in private schools or as Personalized Education students,” said FPI Senior Policy Analyst Norrin Dollard. “However, the sheer volume of the number of awards is staggering and seemingly not sustainable.”

During the last legislative session, lawmakers debated the program and its costs, ultimately concluding that the program was worth the expense.

But to seek answers on actual costs, FPI fired a letter to Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., specifically requesting the count of “new private schools that have applied to accept” vouchers.

According to media reports, Dollard later clarified that FPI’s inquiry is not restricted to schools that have just opened. It also includes existing private educational institutions that are accepting vouchers for the first time.

Aside from focusing on the schools, the non-profit is also looking into the number of home-schooled families who have applied for vouchers. Several media outlets have also sought the information.


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