School choice valentines for Florida’s teachers union

Travis Pillow
Students supporting "Operation Have a Heart" stand outside the Florida Education Association's headquarters.

Students supporting “Operation Have a Heart” gather outside the Florida Education Association’s headquarters. Photo courtesy of Hispanic CREO.

A Hispanic school choice advocacy group is asking Florida’s teachers union to “have a heart.”

Supporters of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options delivered thousands of Valentines Day greetings to the Florida Education Association’s headquarters in Tallahassee, including candy hearts emblazoned with the rallying cry for the state’s tax credit scholarship program: #DropTheSuit.

The statewide teachers union filed a lawsuit challenging the program in 2014. It has since been dismissed by a Tallahasssee judge, and is now being argued on appeal. Right now, nearly 80,000 low-income children use the scholarships to attend private schools.

“I don’t understand why teachers would want to take this away from my children,” Deborah Gomes, a mother of four children on scholarship, said in a statement. “It makes no sense to me.”

In an interview, Gomes, who traveled from Orlando, said she first enrolled her daughter at IEC Christian Academy to get away from bullying. “At this school she was much happier. She was able to perform better. She had a lot more support from the teachers,” she said. “I do believe that each person learns differently, but one thing that every person needs is support.”

Politico Florida reported that FEA President Joanne McCall, who is the lead plaintiff in the case, said she plans to continue supporting the legal battle.DropTheSuit Hearts

“We look forward to receiving their Valentines,” she said in a statement. “But our legal challenge is about providing high-quality education for all students, not just a few. We’re not dropping the suit.”

Hispanic CREO’s advocacy in Florida has gotten increasingly festive. Last month, the group brought dozens of pastors, as well as three camels and children dressed as wise men, to Orlando for a Three Kings Day-themed press conference denouncing the suit.

Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the scholarship program. 

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