School Freedom Roundup | July 2023


Pennsylvania: After Governor Josh Shapiro caved to pressure from teachers unions and broke his own campaign promise to support Lifeline Scholarships for students in Pennsylvania’s poorest performing schools, the commonwealth remains in a budget stalemate. Shapiro said he would line-item veto the very school choice plan he previously vocally supported in order to avoid “a painful, protracted budget impasse” that is still happening, likely until September. Shapiro has said he would consider school choice proposals in the future, but it is very uncertain if any legislation will be signed into law this session after Shapiro’s about-face.


Ohio: Meanwhile, in neighboring Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine and the Republican legislature have expanded their school choice vouchers to any family, regardless of income. The program previously applied to only those families who fell under 250% of the federal poverty level and those attending the state’s worst-performing schools. High-performing charter schools will also see a boost in funding.

Nevada: In late July, Democrats in the Legislature refused to raise the cap on Nevada’s Opportunity Scholarships program. Governor Joe Lombardo had fiercely advocated for an increase in funding for the program to expand school choice opportunities to more students. Unfortunately, now up to 600 K-12 students in Nevada may lose their school choice scholarships.


Georgia: This month, formerly Democratic State Rep. Mesha Mainor of Atlanta announced she was switching her party affiliation to Republican after state Democrats attacked her for voting for the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act. As Mainor said, “School choice is important to me because I am that child that it supports. I grew up in an area of the west side of Atlanta where right now the schools–in some of them–97% of the kids can’t read, perform simple math.”


Nebraska: A nonprofit called “Support Our Schools” is seeking to force a referendum to stop the enactment of Nebraska’s new school choice program that sets aside $25 million per year in tax credits for those who donate to nonprofit scholarship organizations for low-income families. Unsurprisingly, 80% of the group’s funding has come from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union. The group has until August 30th to gather approximately 61,000 signatures.

Florida: Florida is seeing a massive expansion in the number of awarded school choice scholarships, as this Fall marks the first year families do not have to meet an income requirement to qualify. So far, 240,000 scholarships have been awarded for the 2023-2024 school year, compared to approximately 170,000 given out last year.


Iowa: Similarly, in Iowa, over 29,000 students have applied for an education savings account as of the end of June, far exceeding initial projections which predicted just over 14,000 would be approved.