Education choice: past, present, future

John Kirtley

In the cover story for its latest issue, Florida Trend, the state’s leading business publication, shines a light on Alberto Carvalho, the innovative superintendent of the Miami-Dade school district. With nearly three-quarters of the students in that district exercising options beyond their zoned neighborhood schools, Miami-Dade is portrayed as head and shoulders above other districts in its efforts to pursue education choice as a pathway to equity.

A handful of insightful sidebars accompany the story, one of which features the voice and views of Step Up For Students founder and CEO John Kirtley, who has been deeply involved in education choice in Florida and across the nation from the start. Kirtley muses on Florida’s incredible success over the past quarter-century in moving toward a new definition of public education that empowers families to make decisions that are best for their children’s unique needs.

Perhaps more important, he looks ahead to see what’s likely to come next in the education choice world: a demand from families for more customization and how that will be accomplished.

“Many families will be ready to go back to the traditional brick-and-mortar school,” Kirtley writes. “But many families will discover that they like the flexibility and customization that the pandemic forced them to develop. Maybe they like having their child take some classes online and some in person. Maybe they like having their child move along at their own pace in math online, but they want in-person classes for other topics. Maybe they had a great experience supplementing their math classes with tutoring at Kumon or Mathnasium … These are all situations tailor-made for ESAs (education savings accounts).”

You can read the full essay here.