Elementary School Enrolment Rates Drop in Florida After New Program

The impact of Florida’s universal school choice program on the state’s declining enrollment in public schools rate is a contentious topic among analysts.

School closures are occurring in several districts around the state as a result of declining enrollment and the exodus of thousands of kids to private and homeschooling programs.

This change, according to some experts, is a direct outcome of providing parents with additional educational choices.

According to Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the CATO Institute, it’s not surprising that public schools and school districts may need to make adjustments to their operations due to increasing enrollment in private schools. As a result, some schools might close.

That isn’t an issue with choice since, in this instance, individuals are choosing based on what they believe would benefit them the most. According to McCluskey, the ultimate goal of the education system should be for families and individuals to get the education that they believe would be best for their children.  

Duval, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties—three of the state’s most populous—have all seen declines in public school enrollment. The administration of the public schools in Broward County is thinking of shutting down 42 schools.

While other states have long offered additional school choice options, Florida has now extended the eligibility for school choice vouchers for all children regardless of income.

Stats from the state reveal that 68,000 kids have enrolled in charter schools from the year 2019. From the 2019–20 academic year to the 2022–23 academic year, enrollment in private schools increased by over 50,000 students. Also, homeschooling has grown by 59%.

So far, no other state with a statewide school choice program has seen the massive shutdown of public schools as Florida has. 

Policymakers have repeatedly supported alternatives like charter schools and private schools. 

Most school choice programs were just recently put into place, and the number of people advocating for such policies has increased dramatically since the oppressive measures taken by school districts during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Arizona and Florida have had school choice for several decades, and they have many more options overall due to their lengthy histories of providing families with alternatives and diverse ecosystems.