This is the first in a recurring feature of articles looking at parents, teachers and students who have been personally impacted by school choice. -ed.
I am a public schoolteacher who exercises school choice. I am also a citizen who learned a lesson in politics this spring, when I tried–with the help of other parents–to save school choice programs in my home state of Florida.
Lynette, second from left, went with two other school choice activists to visit Sen. Alex Villalobos (R), right, regarding a constitutional amendment to protect school choice in Florida.
In January the Florida Supreme Court, in a ruling I still don’t understand, declared the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program unconstitutional. This program let students attending chronically failing public schools attend a different school—even a private one—chosen by their parents. The children on this program are 90% minority and from poor areas of the state. The court said that because the state constitution requires a system of public schools, the state can’t fund a program that would allow kids to attend anything other than a public school. This ruling came in spite of studies done by Harvard University and others showing that the program was spurring the public schools to improve.
Why did I care about this ruling? Some might expect me, as an employee of the public schools, to rejoice in the elimination of competition. Not so. My son Lucas attends a private school on a McKay Scholarship—another Florida program that enables parents of special education children to access taxpayer funds to help pay tuition at private schools that best meet their children’s needs. My son, who has autism, would not have made it in his assigned public school, nor in any other public school program. He is now thriving in