Florida’s Universal School Choice Triggers Mass Exodus from Public Schools

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Just over a year after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) enacted legislation making Florida part of the growing number of states with universal school choice, parents are moving their children away from public schools, leaving these institutions with fewer students.

According to a recent report, declining enrollment, partly due to the expanded choice, may result in the closure of some public schools in Florida. In the state’s largest counties, over 50,000 students have departed from traditional public schools.

Where are these students going? Some are enrolling in charter schools, others in private institutions, and some are being homeschooled. Notably, Broward County Public Schools reports more than 49,000 vacant classroom seats, while nearby charter schools have an enrollment of 49,833.

With shrinking attendance and reduced funding, consolidation appears inevitable. Broward County has proposed closing up to 42 schools, including 32 elementary schools.

For mainstream media, teachers unions, and public education officials, the reduction in public schools is a major concern. They argue it will leave students without a nearby school and compel teachers to relocate as campuses shut down.

However, the closure of public schools is an intended outcome of school choice, not an unintended consequence.

As students move to other educational institutions and public school campuses close, better private and charter schools will emerge to meet the increased demand. Public schools, along with teachers unions, must adapt and enhance the education they provide to stay competitive in this new landscape.

School choice empowers families to seek better education opportunities by allowing them to choose between various educational options. While some parents may choose to stay with their local public school, many opt for alternatives due to the perceived poor quality of these schools. Those seeking better education are now able to find it through school choice.

As long as the government provides families with the means to educate their children in compliance with compulsory education laws, public schools do not need to be the only option. Florida residents will observe underperforming public schools closing and simultaneously see the emergence of better schools. This change is concerning only for school bureaucrats accustomed to receiving compensation for subpar performance.

Rather than worrying about school closures, public education officials and teachers unions should consider why numerous families are keen to leave some public schools for private and charter alternatives.

Truth Voices
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