January 25, 2023

Sue Kingery Woltanski: Universal Education Savings Accounts, HB1 and the Further Defunding and Dismantling of Florida’s Public Schools

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Florida continues to lead the way in the dismantling of public education. Sue Kingery Woltanski regularly chronicles the disruption in the sunshine state, and in a recent post, she breaks down the latest bill aimed at enlarging the voucher program.

That sound you hear is the crumbling of public school walls as the Florida House moves forward on dismantling public schools. HB1, filed today by Kaylee Tuck (R-83 and daughter of former State Board of Education Chair, Andy Tuck) provides Universal ESAs/edu-debit cards for all. ICYMI, during her freshman session, Rep. Tuck “championed” the bill forbidding trans-gender girls from participating in sports.

The “1” in HB1 means it is of the highest priority to pass. The only qualifications are that the student is a resident of the state and is eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 in a school in the state.

The bill also creates a whole new ways to make money from the privatization of education.

HB1 also creates a new business entity: “Choice Navigators” (I expect edu-entrepreneurs are filing incorporation papers as we speak), apparently designed to help ESA recipients choose from the wide array of non-public school options available to them. In Florida’s current ESA program (FES-UA, formerly Gardiner) families can, every two years plus 1 day, use their public education dollars to purchase a laptop, desktop, phone, tablet, game console, smart watch, VR, AND MP3 player… Please note the “AND” is not a typo. Each device falls in a separate approved category. Every two years…

When she does the work of trying to compute what the new vouchers could cost taxpayers, the numbers get very huge very fast.

183,951 + 101,309 = 285,260 new students eligible for public funding. Each student will get 100% of the per-pupil dollars received by students in their assigned public school district, which is currently an average of $8,216.74/full time student.

285,260 x 8,216.74 = $2.34 BILLION to fund students who are not now (or ever) attending Florida’s public schools.

Add this to the current ~ $1 Billion for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program and the $1.3 Billion for the current Family Empowerment Scholarship voucher program and you get:

Florida could be spending $4.6 Billion funding vouchers…

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