Today 250 Florida Citizens for a Sound Economy grassroots activists in CSE t-shirts that read “School Choice: giving parents a voice” and “School Choice Now” buttons lobbied their state representatives to demand support for H.B. 303 and S.B. 504. This legislation will allow parents of students in schools at over 120 percent capacity to take part of the state tax dollars spent on their child’s and use it at another public or private school. The bill passed in the House today.
As our activists shouted, “What do we want? School choice! When do we want it? Now!” Hillsborough county parent, and CSE activist, Deana Page explained how her son is entering a public elementary school that has vacancies and is actively recruiting students, while two blocks over, is another district with an extremely overcrowded school. “This makes no sense that the kids literally down the street cannot go to our school,” she exclaimed.
Florida CSE members have been e-mailing their elected officials this week to support the bill, and Wednesday grassroots activists arrived from all parts of the state to lobby personally for passage. CSE activist and Representative Jim Kallenger recognized from the floor CSE members in the House gallery as the bill was being debated. Speaker Tom Feeney distributed CSE talking points on the bill to all members on the floor.
At Speaker Tom Feeney’s and Rep. Lacasa’s requests activists cancelled a tour of the governor’s mansion and pushed back their departure time to return to the House gallery during the final debate and vote. The bill passed the House by a vote of 63 to 54.
Earlier today, Florida CSE held a press conference that featured CSE activists as well as Florida CSE Director Slade O’Brien, House Speaker Tom Feeney, Representative Carlos Lacasa (the bill’s sponsor), Former NBA player and educator Greg Kite, and several members of the Florida House of Representatives.
Activists also urged support for separate legislation to allow tax credit for businesses that contribute to private scholarships, thereby making school choice available to even more parents.