And what would any day in K-12 online learning be without something from the neo-liberals…
Florida Establishes Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts
Governor Scott Signs Bill Giving Families More Choices for Students with Special Needs
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a school choice policy ensuring that students with unique abilities benefit from educational choices beyond those already offered through the McKay Scholarship Program. The signing of Florida Senate Bill 850 establishes Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSAs), modeled after Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. Advocated by the Foundation for Excellence in Education (@ExcelinEd), the program allows parents of students with certain disabilities to create a customized education plan by choosing the school, services and therapies that best fit the needs of their child.
“Every child has unique learning needs, and we should strive to customize education opportunities that meet those needs,” said Governor Jeb Bush, chairman of ExcelinEd. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature, Florida is giving families the ability to achieve more successful outcomes for their children. Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts are just one more example of what can be accomplished when leaders embrace bold policy and challenge the status quo to give more students the chance to succeed in school and life, regardless of the challenges they face.”
Through flexibility provided by these scholarship accounts, parents can choose the educational setting most appropriate for their child while balancing the optimal level of support required for educational success.
“Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts will provide important resources students and their parents can utilize to make certain our students receive an education tailored to their unique abilities,” said Florida Senate President-Designate Andy Gardiner, who championed PLSAs through the Legislature.
Longwood, Fla., mother Julie Kleffel, sole caregiver for her seven-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, pays out-of-pocket for the added therapies that help her daughter thrive. She says PLSAs will make important services more manageable for her family and many others.
“For my daughter, this means she can maintain the speech therapies that are working so well for her, and we can increase or add to them as needed with things like physical or occupational therapy,” said Kleffel. “I want her to be as successful as possible. As a parent, it can be overwhelming, but this will allow Faith to benefit from services that otherwise would not have been accessible to us.”
Jacksonville, Fla., mother Melissa Ward’s eight-year-old son Ethan has cerebral palsy and benefits from speech, physical and occupational therapies, along with tutoring. But the family has had to limit those helpful services due to the financial burden.
“This new program is a huge blessing,” Ward said about PLSAs. “It means we will be able to provide more of the therapies that work for Ethan. We’ll be able to give him the tools he needs to be successful academically and in everyday life.”
The program begins with the 2014-15 school year. Later this summer, the Department of Education will identify organizations to administer the program, and eligible students can then apply through those organizations.
Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts build on the State’s record of serving all Florida students. In 1999, Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature established the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program to expand parental choice. To date, thousands of students have been served through this successful program.
In Florida’s state budget passed this year, $18.4 million was allocated to fund PLSAs. Another student-centered policy passed through Senate Bill 850, families in the Sunshine State will be given increased access to private school scholarships through the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.
Parents who want to learn more about Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts in Florida are encouraged to contact the Florida Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice at 1-800-447-1636.
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Sample tweets to share this news:
- PRESS RELEASE from @ExcelinEd: Florida establishes Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts! http://bit.ly/1w3mvDo
- Gov. @JebBush: “FL is giving families the ability to achieve more successful outcomes for their children.” http://bit.ly/1w3mvDo
- Just in! @FLGovScott signs bill giving families more choices for students w/ special needs. More from @ExcelinEd http://bit.ly/1w3mvDo
The Foundation for Excellence in Education is igniting a movement of reform, state by state, to transform education for the 21st century economy by working with lawmakers, policymakers, educators and parents to advance education reform across America. Learn more a t www.ExcelinEd.org.
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