Bipartisan Educational Choice Champions Elected to Florida State Legislature
Sixteen candidates in support of expanding educational choices claim victory in competitive elections
TALLAHASEE, FL (November 7, 2012)—A bipartisan group of 16 candidates who support educational choice, including the state’s highly-successful Tax Credit Scholarship program and expansion of its public charter schools, claimed victory in competitive state House and Senate races last night.
The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for educational choice—praised the election results as a step toward building a stronger bipartisan legislative coalition in support of educational choices for Florida’s families.
The Florida Federation for Children, a state electioneering organization affiliated with the American Federation for Children, conducted electioneering communications in all 16 of the races in which school choice candidates won. In total, three Democrats and 13 Republicans who were in competitive races and supportive of educational choice were elected or re-elected to the state legislature.
“Florida’s scholarship tax credit program is academically successful, helps children who are most in need, and has broad support from both Democrats and Republicans,” said John F. Kirtley, vice chairman of the American Federation for Children. “The candidates that won on Tuesday will only help strengthen the program that has become a model for the nation.”
Among last night’s winners are:
- Rep. Darren Soto (D), who was elected with 70 percent of the vote to a state senate seat in the Orlando area
- Kathleen Peters (R), who won with 52 percent of the vote in an open House seat in Pinellas County
- Rep. Joe Abruzzo (D), who will join the state senate in Palm Beach County after winning 57 percent of the vote
- Holly Raschein (R), who, thanks to a strong ground game, won a House seat in the Florida Keys and Miami-Date with nearly 53 percent of the vote
“These victories cement the growing bipartisan support for educational options, which have been expanding across the country in recent years,” Kirtley said.
Earlier this year, legislators expanded the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program by increasing the cap on donations and expanding student eligibility. In the 2012-13 school year, nearly 49,000 students are participating in the program. In addition, there are approximately 180,000 students attending 516 charter schools statewide.
Florida is also home to the John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities program, which has more than 23,000 students participating in the 2012-13 school year.
Nationwide, there are 32 publicly-funded private school choice programs in 16 states and the District of Columbia. This year, it is anticipated that approximately 250,000 children will participate in these programs.