Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

DeSantis Makes Stop in Jacksonville To Praise New Voucher Program

Abukar Adan
Gov. Ron DeSantis is joined by local and state lawmakers at Potter's Christian Academy

Gov. Ron DeSantis is touring the state to tout a new school voucher program that’s projected to help as many as 18,000 students go to private schools next year.

DeSantis kicked off his tour at Potter’s Christian Academy, a private school on Jacksonville’s Westside, where he was joined by Mayor Lenny Curry and several state lawmakers.

DeSantis said educating students at a place like Potter’s with the scholarship is less expensive than at traditional public schools.  “Sometimes by many thousands,” he said. “Schools like this, really they’re doing a lot with less compared to what the school districts are doing.”

The Family Empowerment Scholarship will allow children from low income families to attend private schools of their choice if they are unhappy with their local public school, according to the governor.

Critics say the new voucher program siphons money away from public schools and will likely face legal challenges, just like a similar 2006 voucher program pushed by then-Governor Jeb Bush.

“Along with the majority of people in Florida, we believe that public education is a fundamental good for this state and for the nation as a whole,” said Fedrick Ingram, President of the Florida Education Association teachers union. “But our neighborhood public schools are under attack.  There’s no other way to describe it.”

The teachers union plans to host a summit May 18 in Orlando to discuss issues such as vouchers, according the News Service of Florida.

But DeSantis contends state lawmakers this year also did a lot for public schools.

“We’ve done more than anyone in recent times, I think, in terms of providing resources for school districts, and kind of the core public education,” he said.

In addition to vouchers, the governor touted having increased per-student funding, allocating $300 million for the Best and Brightest program and emphasizing vocational and workforce training programs.  

DeSantis also made stops at private schools in St. Petersburg and Miami Gardens on Thursday.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.

Contact Abukar Adan at 904-358-6319, or on Twitter at @abukaradan17

Abukar Adan is a former WJCT reporter who left the station for other pursuits in August 2019.