Florida was certainly not the first state to use taxpayer money in order to fund private schools, but it has become the latest to create a far-reaching system that allows more families to choose the private school they want for their kids while using the money that they pay in taxes to support that choice.
Florida already had a charter school expansion that had hurt local public schools, and critics of the new vouchers might say that it does even more damage. However, proponents might argue that the expansion of vouchers in private schools allows those schools to finally compete with charter schools on an equal footing.
Basically, a family of four making around $100,000 per year will have the ability to use taxpayer money for private schools. These can be religious schools or non-religious private schools. In the past, the vouchers were focused on lower-income families or kids who had been bullied, so this is a large expansion.
With many local private schools charging over $7,000 a year in tuition, a family of four with two kids in private school can save about $15,000 a year in tuition. But it's bigger than that, as more parents who have their kids in a public school or charter school might decide it's OK to send their kids to the local Christian school that would have cost 15% or more of their budgets in the past. There's likely an upper limit to these funds, and some elite private schools may refuse to participate, as those schools maintain elite status by discouraging parents who make a paltry $100,000 a year in the first place.
Yes, like charter schools, private schools will now be able to pilfer some of the best students from local public schools in Florida. Since charter schools are the real enemy of both public AND private schools, the hope might be that the majority of transfers come from parents who see the opportunity to get into a better school without having to put up with a charter school and all of its for-profit politics.
Many people in Florida will now have more options with where they send their kids. You can support the local public school, the local charter school millionaire, or the local church at a private school, and this new voucher school program gives parents the means to choose.