podcastED: New Florida Board of Education chair Andy Tuck on school choice, teacher pay and Florida’s progress

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SEBRING, Fla. – When it comes to public education, Andy Tuck, the new chair of the Florida Board of Education, is an all-of-the-above kind of guy. His wife is a district schoolteacher. His children attended district schools. They had the option of enrolling in an International Baccalaureate program he approved as a district school board member.

But Tuck doesn’t think it makes sense to limit educational choice to district options. Charters. Vouchers. Education savings accounts. Giving more parents more access to all of them, he said, is “critical.”

“I felt like my children got a first-class education at Sebring High School … Our choice was to leave our children in the traditional public school. But don’t think for minute I wouldn’t have had a different choice had I needed to,” Tuck, 49, said in a podcast interview with redefinED. “We need to continue to expand options. I don’t think that’s something we ever need to stop.”

Tuck is an orange grower in Highlands County, where the biggest city has 10,000 people and the school district and Walmart are among the biggest employers. He grew up a free-and-reduced-price lunch kid. He was the first in his family to earn a college degree.

He’s got a good story about why he became engaged in education issues. He’s got another about why he became a fan of school choice. We could tell you, but sitting in Cowpoke’s Watering Hole on U.S. 27, Tuck tells it better himself.

Tuck doesn’t fit neatly into anybody’s box. He views educational choice as nonpartisan. He thinks rural areas could use more of it (despite the prevailing narrative that choice won’t work there). And while it’s unclear where Florida is headed on boosting teacher pay (intriguing hints here), he’s all for finding ways to do that now.

“We have a world-class education system here, and we’re going to need to show that in our compensation,” Tuck said.

Enjoy the podcast.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Andy Tuck shuns science and wants to embrace magical thinking so is not someone who should be around children or making policy to damage children with his childish worldview that includes talking snakes and original sin as part of our shared reality when these notions were plagiarized from The Epic of Gilgamesh, clearly a work of fiction.

  2. Pay teachers and staff better now! One reason I left the state to teach elsewhere, the pay is pathetic and the school are underfunded. Stop undermining public education!

  3. We must have school choice as the largest counties have public schools that are extremely overcrowded. This is dangerous when kids become a number on a badge and not otherwise known slipping in and out, computer babysitters, and limited access to liberal arts college pathways due to corporations collaborating with educators to influence politics and to develop skills-based programs to groom low wage workers for their companies. School Choice will allow those parents who want to preserve equal education opportunity and a college pathway for their children will receive portable funding and access to the interdisciplinary studies needed for academic advancement. Education Choice empowers parents. There is no room for affirmative action in education. Guidance Counselors and principals should not get to bias or select who gets to access to college by exam AP or Cambridge AICE classes. School Choice all the way! Education savings accounts will give parents and students education portability in a technological age …. that’s powerful and progressive!

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