For Immediate Release
March 27, 2023
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Transformational School Choice Bill Providing State Scholarships to All Nonpublic School Students, Regardless of Family Income
Legislation, Spearhead by Speaker Paul Renner and supported by Teach Florida and Coalition Partners, Will Save Families of Children in Jewish, Other Nonpublic Schools $7,800 Per Child and Will Serve as Model for States Nationwide
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed into law a new school choice bill (House Bill 1) that will provide scholarships of almost $8,000 per child for all families with students in K-12 nonpublic schools and serves as a blueprint for similar legislation in states nationwide.
The new bill, passed last week by the Florida House and Senate, will allow all K-12 students in Florida state-sponsored scholarships to help pay for their preferred schools, regardless of family income. It will take effect July 1.
Teach Florida, a division of Teach Coalition, a national, nonpartisan grassroots movement that advocates for equitable government funding, security and quality education for nonpublic schools across the United States, spearheaded passage of the legislation. Teach Florida and Teach Coalition are projects of the Orthodox Union, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization.
Teach Florida has been working tirelessly alongside other school choice coalition partners including Step Up For Students, Foundation for Florida’s Future, the Florida Catholic Conference and others to expand state scholarships for all children.
Teach Coalition already has begun laying the groundwork for similar, state-sponsored legislation nation-wide, said Teach Coalition Founder and Managing Director of Public Affairs at the Orthodox Union, Maury Litwack.
“The historic achievement of universal scholarships in Florida is just the beginning,” Litwack said. “Teach Coalition and our partners are working in several states to bring about new scholarship programs in states like New York and New Jersey and to make universal scholarships a reality in states with existing scholarship programs including Pennsylvania. Florida is paving the way and our activists are eager to take this momentum and truly make day school and yeshiva education affordable for all students.”
The landmark legislation will provide every nonpublic school student with a state scholarship equivalent to 100 percent of state funding accorded to a public school student, which Teach Florida Executive Director Danny Aqua estimates at $7,800 per child. Aqua hopes it will help schools combat the national teacher shortage, improve overall education quality and increase access for families who struggle financially.
“People have been talking about universal school choice and scholarships for every child for decades,” said Aqua. “Now, thanks to Teach Florida’s incredible activists, engaged member schools, and tremendous coalition partners, Florida is going to be the first state with a major Jewish day school population to adopt this policy.”
The bill comes at a time when the cost of Jewish education is the No. 1 concern for 85 percent of Modern Orthodox Jewish families, according to Nishma Research. More than 3,500 people have signed a petition organized by Teach Florida asking elected officials to Fund Every Child.
Florida is home to a growing Orthodox Jewish community. From 2018-2020, the number of students in Jewish day schools grew from 10,623 to 12,482, and 14 new schools opened – for a total of 64 such schools today.
The bill was a top priority for House Speaker Paul Renner, who led the charge to pass this landmark legislation. “Speaker Renner’s total commitment to universal choice represents a dramatic advance in school choice politics in Florida,” said Teach Florida Chairman Dr. Allan Jacob. “The impact on our community will be enormous. Families, schools and the entire community will all benefit from this expansion. Teach Florida has been advocating this approach for years and the Speaker has warmly accepted our suggestions and genuinely appreciates our community’s support. We look forward to continuing working with Speaker Renner.”
Learn more about Florida state scholarships and apply here: teachcoalition.org/fl-scholarship.
Executive Director, Teach Florida
About Teach Florida/Teach Coalition
Teach Florida, a division of Teach Coalition, has a goal to solve the tuition crisis facing the nonpublic school community. Teach Coalition advocates for equitable government funding for nonpublic schools and counts nearly 150 schools nationwide as official members. Through direct application assistance, political advocacy, and grassroots activism, Teach Coalition is committed to making nonpublic schools better, safer and more affordable.
About the Orthodox Union
Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union (OU), or Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs.