School choice

The Florida School Voucher Program

The Flordia A+ plan was established in 1998. Schools in Florida are given A - F letter grades. If a school receives two F grades in a four year period, the students in that school are eligible for vouchers.

Im 1997-1998, 78 schools with 61,000 students received an F grade. If those schools recieved another F grade, those students would be eligible for vouchers. The public school establishment paniced. Internal memos from administrators detail the effect of losing funding if children take vouchers. The Florida public schools responded to this threat by lauching a massive amount of real public school reform. (A detailed report of these reforms is on the web.) These reforms --- all instituted directly in response to the threat of vouchers --- were successful and all 78 schools received a better grade the following year. Associate Superintendent Carmen Valera-Russo noted that these reforms were not new; they just had not happened before the threat of vouchers: "We needed a reading coach and a math coach. Pretty basic, but it wasn't happening in many cases." Different schools tried different reforms, and here are a summary of some of these reforms :

Two elementary schools had received an F grade previously, and their students were eligible for vouchers. Only 53 children took these vouchers and went to private schools. (85 went to other public schools.) But the rest stayed in the public schools because public school credibly promised to reform the system.

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