Private online learning companies will get a better shot at Florida public school funding under a bill that won approval on the final day of the legislative session.
Though the vote garnered little attention from outside observers, Republicans hailed it as among the year’s most important victories for school choice.
“We want to open up access and give our kids the very best,” said Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr., R-Hialeah, who sponsored the bill in the House.
But Democrats were outraged that the final action took place on the last day of session – and only hours after lawmakers reduced the funding for Florida’s public virtual school. Taken together, critics said, the moves were a clear effort to privatize public education.
“If you want to get at the largest portion of the state budget that has not been privatized, it is education,” said Jeff Wright, who oversees public policy advocacy for the Florida Education Association, the state teachers union. “That’s what this is all about. This is about allowing outside vendors to get a piece of the action.”