State House Republicans take step toward charter school expansion

Last Updated: Friday, April 14, 2017, 11:12 AM EDT

The sweeping charter school expansion has been passed by Florida lawmakers. 

  • Florida House passes vote to expand charter schools
  • New proposal: Charter schools could be started within 5 miles of low-performing schools
  • Budget negotiations begin next week

The Florida House voted this week to establish "schools of hope." 

The plan has been a priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, whose wife runs a charter school. A Republican who represents parts of Pasco County, Corcoran said if anyone stands to gain, it's students attending chronically failing public schools. 

Areas served by those schools would be opened up to charter schools that could take advantage of taxpayer money. 

The proposal would allow charter schools to be created within five miles of continually low-performing schools. The House has discussed creating a $200 million fund to incentivize out-of-state charters to set up in Florida. 

During the debate for the vote, state Democrats balked when Republicans argued if a public school can't turn itself around in five years, it is time for competition.

"If they want to continue going to their failing school, then they certainly can do that," said Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R). "But if they want an opportunity at success, which we know the best way to break generational poverty is through education, if they want that choice, well, we're going to give them that choice."

The charter school funding could be a big point of contention when budget negotiations begin next week.