On Sunday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill enacting the Hope Scholarship Program which will provide students who are victims of bullying, harassment, and other types of violence with more choices for their education.
The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to educating students. What works for one student will not necessarily work for another student. Students who are bullied, harassed, or met with other types of violence understand this better than most. The Hope Scholarship Program gives these students the opportunity to attend a school where they will feel safe and can focus on their studies instead of their safety. Under the new law, students are eligible for a scholarship to cover tuition at a private school. They may also elect to move to a different public school. A Hope scholarship remains in effect until the student receiving the scholarship elects to return to public school or graduates from high school, giving that student the opportunity to prosper in a school best suited for them year after year.
Through the Hope Scholarship Program, and other existing educational choice programs in the state, Florida is empowering parents to exercise their pre-existing constitutional right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. Estimates show that as many as 50,000 students are bullied in Florida public schools each year. Parents of these students are now able to do what the parents of the nearly 150,000 students already participating in one of Florida’s educational choice programs are able to do – exercise their freedom to find a school that works best for their child. After all, parents, not government officials, know what kind of educational environment will best suit their children’s needs.
In December of last year, the First District Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that two of Florida’s educational choice programs are constitutional. “The court recognized that Florida’s school choice programs are a legitimate way to provide parents with the ability to choose the schools that are best suited to meet their children’s unique educational needs,” explained IJ Senior Attorney Dick Komer. The passage of the Hope Scholarship Program further proves that Florida is doing what is best for children.
As Governor Scott stated while signing the bill into law, “Every child in Florida should have the opportunity to get a great education at the school of their choice so they can achieve their dreams.”