I work with educators & legislators to prioritize public education.
Florida’s public schools are under attack. For decades, the State Legislature has failed to adequately fund public schools, hampered them with unfunded mandates and chipped away at the authority of local school boards. The misleading “school choice” campaign is siphoning public dollars away from our neighborhood schools, diverting funding directly and indirectly to for-profit and religious entities and jeopardizing the quality education our children need. About 90% of Florida’s students attend public schools, yet state funding is disproportionately allocated to for-profit charter and voucher schools. Without our State Legislature’s support for public schools, Florida is in danger of losing the foundation of our economic vitality – quality public education.
How I’ve Used My Voice and My Vote …
For the past 20 years, Floridians have watched the State Legislature give for-profit charter and voucher schools a bigger and bigger share of tax money urgently needed by our public schools. Year after year, these for-profit charter and voucher schools promise their students will perform better than those at public schools. But it’s become clear they don’t. For the past two years, I’ve had the privilege of serving as your representative on the State House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee.
I have strived to always use my vote to help strengthen public schools. In the 2019 session, I introduced a bill that would prohibit charter schools from operating as, or being operated by, certain for-profit entities. Due to the influence of the Republican majority, which broadly supports for-profit charter and voucher schools, this bill did not make it out of the subcommittee.
Of Special Concern to Me …
Over the past 20 years, the Florida Legislature has passed a dizzying array of bills designed to systematically defund and weaken our public school system. Teachers and school administrators have struggled to keep up with continual changes to testing, rules and curriculum, all while adjusting their budgets to accommodate the state’s unfunded mandates.
And then there’s the testing. Our children are subjected to an array of standardized tests, needlessly stringent and constantly changing. Meanwhile, public schools suffer the loss of programs that enable students to explore the arts, music and sports.
Here in Florida, too many parents must choose between sending their child to an underfunded public school or to a for-profit or voucher school that lacks the standards and accountability of traditional public schools. We need a strong public education system that provides the resources our teachers and children need for success, rather than schools whose primary goal is profit.