A New Era for Schools: Florida’s Education Revolution Takes Off

There’s a massive change in the education sector happening right now in Florida. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what’s been happening over in the Sunshine State.

Doubling Down

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Florida’s home school voucher program is about to double in size next year. With more and more families jumping on the homeschooling bandwagon, the demand for these vouchers is through the roof.

Homeschooling Hype

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Over the last decade, the number of homeschooled students in Florida has skyrocketed, more than doubling. The Personalized Education Program (PEP), launched in the 2023-2024 school year, is a big part of this.

PEP’s Popularity

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This program was designed to help families not enrolled in public or private schools by giving out vouchers for various educational expenses. Initially, there was space for 20,000 students, but it immediately almost maxed out with 19,514 vouchers awarded.

From 20,000 to 60,000 Students

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For the 2024-2025 school year, the program will grow to include up to 60,000 students. 

Enrollment Explosion

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So far, nearly 40,000 applications have been submitted, and 31,991 vouchers have already been given out. With more applications rolling in, the program looks on track to reach 60,000 students.

Meeting the Needs of Homeschool Families

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Scott Kent from Step Up for Students, the organization managing these vouchers, explained that “As with every scholarship program, not every student who is awarded a scholarship uses it.” This means we won’t know the final count of funded vouchers until later in the school year.

The Rise of Personalized Education

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These PEP vouchers are funded through the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, which gets money from businesses in exchange for tax credits. 

Cash Injection

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Each voucher ranges from $7,000 to $9,000 per student, depending on the county. However, the exact amounts for next year will only be known once Governor Ron DeSantis signs off on the state budget.

The Benefits of PEP Vouchers

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One of the best things about these vouchers is their flexibility. Families can use the money for things like instructional materials, virtual courses, tutoring, and even services at public schools. 

Funding Flexibility

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The cash is all managed through education savings accounts, which gives parents a lot of control over how they choose to educate their kids.

Educational Empowerment

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According to the Florida Department of Education, PEP is all about supporting homeschool families. 

Learning Plans

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To participate, families need to submit yearly learning plans to Step Up for Students, detailing what their kids will learn and what services they need.

Homeschooling Trends

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According to the data, the number of homeschooled students in Florida jumped from 77,000 a decade ago to 155,000 in 2023. More and more families are choosing homeschooling, wanting to make sure their kids grow up with a set of values similar to theirs.

Budget Battles

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Schools across Florida – and the rest of the U.S. – are currently battling huge budget deficits. 

Schools Struggle Due To Enrollment Decline

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A decrease in enrollment, as well as a lack of government funding and an end to COVID relief funds, has left a lot of schools in dire straits. 

Staff Shortages

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This has all culminated in a wave of teachers leaving the profession, as well as staff layoffs at schools across the nation. Arguably, it has also contributed to parent’s choosing to homeschool their kids over sending them to public school.

DeSantis Praises Florida’s Options

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At the Florida Homeschool Convention in Orlando, DeSantis called Florida the “number one state for homeschool in all of these United States.” 

DeSantis Advocates for Parental Control

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He talked about the importance of having educational choices, saying, “When you think about education and your kids, as a parent, the kids are in many ways an open book. And do you want to turn them over for eight hours a day to some indoctrination factory? Of course not. And so you want to be able to have choice to be able to direct the education and upbringing of your kids.”

Lifeline for Families

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With applications still open, it’s clear that Florida’s home school voucher program is a lifeline for many families. 

Applications Still Open

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If you’re considering homeschooling, now is the time to apply. Step Up for Students will keep accepting applications through the start of the school year, so there’s still a chance to get in on this opportunity.

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The post – A New Era for Schools: Florida’s Education Revolution Takes Off first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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