Step Up for Students’ Cynical Last-Minute Voucher Push

Even with today’s likely passage of voucher expansion in the Florida House – whose republican leadership doesn’t want anyone to know that Floridians really oppose  – the administrative agent of the state’s voucher plan, Step Up for Students, is going scorched Earth. While staffers were reportedly directing a bombardment of African-American and Jewish Democrat legislators with a shame campaign, SUFS chairman penned a red meat attack on the state’s public school teachers for opposing the voucher bill which promises to further empower and enrich the shady organization he founded. Writes John Kirtley in his redefinED blog:

Now I do not defend the way big money is impacting modern politics or the coarse campaigns that are often a byproduct, but to be lectured on the evils of campaign spending by the FEA is surreal. It is the FEA’s primary political weapon. Since 2002, the FEA and its national affiliates have invested $20.1 million in Florida campaigns, according to the Florida Division of Elections. Its money is so integral to Florida Democratic legislators that no one raises an eyebrow when all the party’s House and Senate members meet, as they did on April 2, at FEA headquarters. The low-income parents for whom the school-choice movement fights don’t have money for campaigns. I am honored to fight for them and to help their voices be heard. Here’s one way to measure the impact of the FEA’s spending: Democrats admirably fight to increase money for Florida’s pre-K program, even though it’s the nation’s largest voucher system — with 144,000 4-years-olds in private centers, many of them religious. Democrats also fight for Bright Futures scholarships, even though they help students of all incomes attend public and private universities — religious ones, too. Yet Democrats this year oppose even a modest expansion for a scholarship that helps the poorest of K-12 students attend a private school. The difference: FEA represents employees in K-12 schools.

Kirtley’s dismissal of the state’s teachers as “employees” of public schools reveals the contempt his ilk have for the professionally credentialed people who have chosen a career of service. His selective ire for the FEA is intended to deflect the reality that the state’s largest parent group, the Florida PTA, opposes his voucher plan. But then again, Kirtley has already covered that base by demonizing them, too.



About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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