Already making waves in Florida

Liam Julian

Florida's governor-elect, Rick Scott, was in my hometown on Thursday, speaking to a crowd at an evangelical church, when, according to St. Petersburg Times reporter Ron Matus, he said this:

We have a great opportunity this spring, in this session, to make sure we pass an education bill that is 100 percent for the benefit of the kids, and give every child in the state every opportunity that you've had, to make sure that you go to whatever school you want to.

Vouchers? But Scott never said ?vouchers,? you see. Because ?vouchers,? it seems, is now a bad word?e.g., Matus writes that when state Senator John Thrasher was ?asked about Scott's interest in expanding vouchers,? the senator replied, ?You mean the education savings accounts?? Because savings are good. Here's more on all this, from Matus:

In an interview later, Scott said there are no details yet, but his education transition team?which is expected to issue recommendations in coming weeks?knows he values the ?follow-the-dollars? concept. And he said lawmakers will consider something along those lines in the legislative session beginning in March.

?The way I look at it is, we're allocating dollars to students and the parents ought to figure out how to spend those dollars because they can figure out what their child needs more than anybody else,? he said.

[Jeb] Bush's think tank [Foundation for Florida's Future] will include the proposal among its top legislative priorities.

?Think of it as Bright Futures for K-12,? said Jaryn Emhoff, spokeswoman for the Foundation for Florida's Future.

Like Bright Futures, the popular state program that gives high-achieving high school students money for college, the tax dollars used by the K-12 program could be spent at a private school.

No bill has been introduced, but in a paper by the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, a conservative think thank where the idea originated, states would deposit money into a child's ?savings account? instead of channeling education dollars through the public system.

?Liam Julian, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

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