Following pitch for ‘equal opportunity scholarships,’ Gov. DeSantis visits Miami school

Gov. Ron DeSantis is making his way to a Miami school Friday afternoon after he asked legislators at an Orlando school to “send [him] a bill” for creating a new program to relieve the waiting list for voucher-like scholarships for low-income students.

DeSantis will visit Greater Miami Academy, a PreK through 12th grade Seventh Day Adventist school near Tamiami, at 2:30 p.m. The school accepts Florida Tax Credit, Gardiner and McKay scholarships but does not provide exceptional education or special education, according to the website of Step Up for Students, a tax credit scholarship provider for students from low-income families.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that DeSantis wants to cap the new scholarship to 14,000 students, enough to relieve the wait list of students eligible for the Florida Tax Credit scholarships. He said it would come out of general funds, a more “direct” way of funding the scholarships as opposed to tax credit scholarships, which “indirectly” come from companies that give donations to the program in lieu of paying taxes.

According to the Times, Step Up For Students has received more than 80,000 applications for 2019-20 scholarships, outpacing the applicant pace from the past year.

In a statement, Florida Education Association President Fedrick C. Ingram called the scholarships “exclusionary.” FEA has unsuccessfully tried to sue the state over the scholarships.

“Let us be clear,” Ingram said. “Vouchers do not create choice for parents, but rather choice for private schools — they can reject students based on economic status, academic achievement, disabilities, English proficiency, immigration status, sexual orientation or even gender.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.