Is Florida's K-12 scholarship program the best private school choice program in the nation? The American Federation for Children, a pro-school choice group, says it is in the first edition of the group's semi-annual school choice rankings.
Florida's Tax Credit Scholarship program funds private school tuition scholarships by giving tax credits for donations to nonprofit organizations that distribute the scholarships. Only low-income families are eligible for the scholarships. The state sets a dollar cap on the amount of tax credits that can be given out statewide.
The program gets high points from the American Federation for Children for the way the tax credit is designed, as well as the way it holds participating private schools accountable.
Even though it's the highest-ranked school choice program in the country, the group still had some suggestions on how to improve it. For example, only families under 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($48,600 for a family of four) are eligible. "The required income level is still quite low," the report says.
The program served 77,079 students in the 2015-16 school year. In somewhat of a confirmation of its number one ranking, it was announced last week that enrollment surged to over 92,000 students for the 2016-17 school year.
Coming second in the American Federation for Children's rankings is Nevada's Educational Choice Scholarship program. The highest-ranking school voucher program is the Choice Scholarship program in Indiana, which comes third in the overall rankings. Washington, D.C.'s Opportunity Scholarship Program is 13th.
The rankings considered 27 private school choice programs. Public school choice options, like public charter schools, were not included.
Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.