Although just 53 Florida students used vouchers to transfer from public to private schools under the A+ Plan last year, at a cost of less than $200,000, the shift of those few students appears to have jolted many of the state’s public schools into making dramatic improvements in the educational programs for the much larger number of students who remained.
Vance R. Lackore, a member of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution’s Teacher Choice program, has identified several changes, among them:
- first-grade class sizes reduced to 18 in 104 low-performing Broward County schools;
- 210 new teachers hired to work in the 26 worst Miami-Dade County schools;
- $11 million in federal funds shifted to increase math and reading instruction at low-scoring schools in Miami-Dade County; and
- reduced class sizes in low-performing schools in Hillsborough County.
And, for the hundreds of students left behind at the two Pensacola schools that the 53 students previously had attended: a longer school year, a lower pupil-teacher ratio, more focus on core subjects, and more after-school and Saturday tutoring.
“Why weren’t they doing it in the first place?” asks Lackore.