The Hope Scholarship is an impactful scholarship since its creation. From the moment it was filed in the Florida House and Senate, Florida Citizens Alliance (FLCA) has been a strong supporter of this scholarship. Thanks to our efforts and other like-minded organizations, we were able to get it signed into law.
Since its conception, we have promoted the scholarship both to parents and grandparents via strong marketing campaigns and the creation of door-knockers that we distribute at each event we attend. We have also been able to successfully escalate over 100 cases to the Florida Department of Education (DOE) where families were either not offered the scholarship or told they would not qualify with an almost perfect rate of success of getting families the scholarship.
Some background: the Hope Scholarship provides students who have been bullied, intimidated, or harassed by anyone on school property the ability to attend a private school of their choice. The definition of what counts as bullying, intimidation, and/or harassment is very broad.
This important scholarship needs to be expanded to allow parents to make the choice if their child should be homeschooled, under current homeschool law, or go to a private school. Besides the reasons listed above, there are two critical factors for why we should expand this scholarship.
First, the recent Educational Savings Accounts (ESA) HB 1 bill passed has windows for application for this program. The HOPE scholarship is initially awarded within 24 hours of the application form being filed all school year. This becomes very important because after a child is in a dangerous scenario of bullying, intimidation, and/or harassment, it becomes imperative to remove the child from the situation.
The second reason is the accountability the Hope Scholarship provides. Since the HOPE Scholarship is awarded based on an incident, it allows schools to see exactly why a child is leaving and can then turn around to fix the scenarios ideally so this does not happen again. With the ESA, this same awareness of the reason why a child is leaving is not there.
Lastly, here is a quick note on the current homeschool law. Currently, a homeschool family must register with a school district representative and undergo a check of either a portfolio or take a national norm test of their choice. The current homeschool law provides excellent accountability.