podcastED: Incoming House Education Chair Jennifer Sullivan

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State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mt. Dora sits down with redefinED in the returning edition of podcastED.

Arguably no state in America has redefined public education more than Florida. So how fitting that the latest lawmaker to rise to one of the key policy making slots is a former homeschooler.

State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mt. Dora, said being homeschooled gives her unique insights into parental choice and personalized learning that will inform her world view as new chair of the House Education Committee.

In this redefinED podcast, she points out she struggled to read as a child. Had she been educated in a Florida public school rather than at home – where her mom had more flexibility to try different approaches – she said she may have fallen short on Florida’s third-grade reading test and been retained.

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“As we did life, she read to me a lot. And we would work on it. But not in a way where I even knew we were working on it,” Sullivan said. “So when I was nine, it completely clicked for me. And I haven’t put down a book since.”

Sullivan, a conservative Republican, is all in for ed choice. But it may surprise some, given the caricatures of choice supporters, how much she emphasizes the equity and opportunity arguments – in part because of her own life experience.

Her family, she said, “wouldn’t have had the money to move into the really nice neighborhoods to go to the really nice public schools.” In a similar vein, students assigned to district schools that are not working for them “deserve better.”

Sullivan also makes clear that, in her view, expanding choice and strengthening public schools isn’t either/or. “I’m all for school choice. But I am not against our public schools,” she said. “Public schools are where the significant portion of students go to school. And if that’s where our students are, maybe that’s where the reform needs to take place.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. If she were to walk into my county’s Human Resources department to apply for a teaching job she would be immediately turned away. She lacks a college degree and therefore cannot teach, but she will be in charge of the House committee to create education policies. That includes policies that impact teachers. She can’t even provide a straight answer concerning what little college experience she has. Would we appoint someone with no college degree to make policy about medical doctors today? No. It’s no wonder teachers everywhere scoff at her. She was likely appointed because she can be controlled by GOP leadership.

    Now as for this interview, actions speak louder than words. She called for less regulation, but we all know know the GOP-controlled government of Florida passes more burdensome regulation for public schools every year despite claiming to roll back red tape. It’s hypocritical. They resist the slightest regulation of private schools and exempt private/charter schools from regulations placed on public schools.

    I really have to wonder how those who work at SUFS rationalize the clear and obvious inconsistent treatment of public schools with voucher/charters. What I see and what is told to us by the GOP/SUFS are diametrically opposed.

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