Across the country, governors are signing transformational education legislation that empower families to direct education funding for their children. In the last three months, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders have chosen to truly put families first, and Gov. DeSantis could be next. So far, five states have created universal Education Savings Account programs, and other states are following suit with new and innovative policy solutions to put families in the driver’s seat of their children’s educational experiences.
Florida could continue this trend by leading the movement of customized, transformational education opportunities – a win for all of Florida’s families. House Bill 1, a top priority of House Speaker Paul Renner, would broaden the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program so every child in Florida is eligible to receive 100% of his or her allotted state education funding. It would also codify the ability for every Florida student, including homeschool and private school students, to access public school courses through a part-time enrollment provision.
Speaker Paul Renner and the Florida Legislature understand that families deserve the power to make the educational decisions that are best for their children. HB 1 is an opportunity to listen to families’ desire for more innovative approaches to learning and trust them to choose the best-fit education. With this universal empowerment program, as well as public school access, this legislation will allow families to have flexibility in personalizing their children’s education between private, public and alternative options and will demonstrate to the country what is truly possible when we prioritize families.
According to a newly released poll commissioned by yes. every kid. and conducted by WPA Intelligence, the majority of Floridians support implementing a universal education savings account. Beyond public support, there are many reasons to support universal eligibility.
Oftentimes, means-tested programs cannot keep up with how quickly things change in families’ lives, from divorce to lost jobs and bankruptcy and all the unfortunate things that can happen to people. Families who are dealing with emergencies often can have trouble with programs that rely on tax filing, and this process causes greater confusion and stress on parents and guardians. Children should have access to the education that works best for them immediately, and not have to wait for their families to sort through red tape.
Moreover, requiring families to disclose their income status to state employees does not build trust between government and constituents. In fact, such a requirement is a sign of distrust. Universal programs are simpler to administer, resulting in fewer government staff and less bureaucracy. This allows for more time and funds to focus on implementing an effective program that prioritizes helping families.
Every kid deserves dignity and access to the best education that works for them, regardless of race, income, or zip code. With HB 1 moving through the state legislature, Gov. DeSantis has the opportunity to be bold and set the tone for something bigger for the rest of the country.