Advertisement
  1. Gradebook

New Florida survey shows strong support for school choice

Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education conducted the survey Jan. 23-25.
Thousands of Floridians rally in Tallahassee for school choice in 2010. [Step Up For Students]
Thousands of Floridians rally in Tallahassee for school choice in 2010. [Step Up For Students]
Published Feb. 22, 2019
Updated Feb. 22, 2019

With legislative proposals emerging to expand school choice for Floridians, a new survey released Friday indicates that such a push is exactly what many of the state’s residents want. The question remains whether there’s money enough to support the efforts while maintaining a sound public education system.

The poll of 800, conducted for the pro-choice Foundation for Excellence in Education, showed 78 percent of respondents favored “giving parents the opportunity to choose where they send their child to school rather than assigning children to schools based on zip code.”

It also showed 72 percent supported the idea of education savings accounts, described as a “flexible education scholarship that parents can use to pay for their child’s education” instead of sending the student’s share directly to a public school.

The poll had similar strong responses for backing voluntary prekindergarten vouchers, tax credit scholarships for low- to middle-income children and Gardiner scholarships for children with disabilities — programs that already exist in Florida.

Among those who opposed education savings accounts, the most mentioned reason was a reduction of students and funding to the public school system. Among all respondents, 40 percent said a lack of funding is the biggest obstacle to improving Florida’s K-12 system.

At the same time, 37 percent said the one-size-fits-all approach is a significant obstacle.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who created the foundation, has advocated for two decades the need to expand school choice as a catalyst to improve student academic achievement. It has proven a controversial effort, with several court challenges aimed at stopping such ideas as vouchers and education savings accounts.

He expressed optimism that Gov. Ron DeSantis will find success with the Legislature in driving the customized education system to the next level. DeSantis has backed the idea of state-funded scholarships, which Bush tried to establish while governor, and which has been a key focus of his foundation over time.

“Every child is different. The needs of every parent are different,” Bush told the Gradebook. “Philosophically, he’s right on target.”

The foundation’s survey results could help inform the debate to come in the next two months. See the full list of questions and responses, as well as the cross-tabbed results, for more details.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. From left, Don Haddad, Peter Licata and Addison Davis, all finalists for the job of Hillsborough County school superintendent, met Thursday with community members at Rampello K-8 School. The School Board will choose among the three on Tuesday. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    Addison Davis, Don Haddad and Peter Licata outline their plans for the first 90 days.
  2. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    A man university police believe was target shooting near campus was not located, the university said.
  3. Former state senator John Legg has not ruled out a run for Pasco County schools superintendent. The district is the nation's largest to elect its chief executive.
    Short answer: Maybe.
  4. But the competition isn’t who many people expected it to be.
  5. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. A point tally ranking the three finalists to be Hillsborough County's next school superintendent shows up on a screen in the School Board meeting room Thursday after a meeting that lasted most of the day. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    The last round of interviews is set for Jan. 21.
  7. Rep. Stan McClain, an Ocala Republican, presents a bill that would allow Florida public colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools, during a January 2020 meeting of the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    Alternative authorizers have been found unconstitutional in the past. But that isn’t stopping the effort.
  8. Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Thousands of school workers from around the state thronged Florida's Capitol on Monday to press Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature to more than double the nearly $1 billion the governor is proposing for teacher raises and bonuses.  (Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via AP) [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER  |  AP]
    The PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee cutting exercise would come in nearly 25 percent below Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal.
  9. Cocoa Police Department video shows A.J. Plonsky being taken to a mental health facility under the Florida Baker Act on his first day of middle school, August 10, 2018.  [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times]
    Never intended to be used on children, the 1970s law in increasingly applied in schools.
  10. Assisted by the Ray and Associates search firm, the Hillsborough County School Board is hiring a new superintendent. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement