Last month, Rev. H.K. Matthews, a civil rights leader in Florida who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. at Selma, pleaded with Charlie Crist to publicly denounce the lawsuit against the tax credit scholarship program for low-income students. Crist would not do so, but Matthews has not given up his fight against the suit.
In an op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat, Matthews called the lawsuit filed Aug. 28 by the Florida teachers union, Florida School Boards Association, Florida NAACP and other groups “hard to stomach.”
“The truth is that wealthy children have always had choices, whether to neighborhoods with favored public schools or private schools that only money can buy,” Matthews wrote. “The union cries foul when that privilege is extended to those of meager financial means.”
Matthews is part of a politically diverse coalition opposed to the lawsuit that includes a number of prominent black ministers like himself. Nearly 70,000 students are being served by the program this year, more than two-thirds of them black and Hispanic. The program is administered by nonprofits like Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.
In the op-ed, Matthew said he and other school choice supporters are not knocking public schools, calling them “the lifeblood of education.” “But the world is changing, and education needs to change as well,” he continued, noting the proliferation of other school choice options, including magnet schools, charter schools, virtual courses and career academies.
“The scholarship is not an educational miracle,” he concluded. “It’s simply an option that can work for some students but not all. The fact that it grants opportunities to economically disadvantaged students and those of color is something that gives hope to an old civil rights warrior like me.” Read the full post here.