It’s been a bad decade for school vouchers, once a major plank of Republican education policy. Both President Reagan and the first President Bush championed the programs, which give kids cash to help pay for private school. Then the policy was dropped from No Child Left Behind, President Obama excluded it from Race to the Top, and last year Congress defunded the nation’s only federal voucher program. But now momentum seems to be shifting—at least at the state level.
Four new GOP governors have backed voucher programs, including three that also have Republican majorities in their legislatures. The most intriguing reforms are in Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott is the first to propose making vouchers available to all students, not just those in low-income areas. He hopes the distinction will satisfy a federal law requiring a “clear and uniform” public-education system. There may, in fact, be something new under the sun.