A bill that won't likely be filed for another 30 days rose to the top of the Florida House's education priorities Wednesday, as Speaker Richard Corcoran and the chairmen and vice chairmen of all education committees gathered to announce the "Hope Scholarship."
Modeled after the corporate tax credit scholarship, which allows donors to contribute to private school scholarships for low-income children, the proposed new system would let students who report being victimized at school to transfer to a different public or private school without cost. They would become eligible 15 days after filing their complaint.
The scholarship, with its name reminiscent of last session's controversial "Schools of Hope" charter school provision, would allow the students to "continue their learning in a new environment with a fresh start," said Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, who will sponsor the legislation.
He said about 47,000 students could have taken advantage of the scholarship last year, with another estimated 67,000 students who did not report violence or bullying against them.
Corcoran stressed that families would not have to switch schools, but said they deserve the opportunity to find one where they feel more safe and secure. "I fully trust parents to make that decision."
"When you put a kid in a good, safe learning environment, good results happen," Corcoran said.
Discussions are under way to determine what tax the money would come from, insisting funding will not come from the Florida Education Finance Program. The House put out a short video after the press conference to explain its plan.