Top member of Democratic Caucus urges scholarship donors to stay the course

redefinED staff

One day after more than 100 black and Hispanic pastors gathered at the State Capitol in support of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, has issued a statement urging program donors not to withhold funding despite recent attacks alleging the program discriminates against LGBTQ students.

Jones acknowledged that while every school, whether public or private, must uphold a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination, he said that continued erosion of corporate support to the program that serves predominantly low-income and minority families would cause more harm than good.

“Ripping scholarship funding out from underneath thousands of economically vulnerable students whose only chance at a safe environment and solid education is not the answer,” Jones said. “While we come together to create policies to ensure these conditions, I urge companies not to end their support for students in the short term.”

At issue are efforts by two Florida lawmakers to persuade corporate donors to end their contributions to the scholarship program that serves more than 100,000 students. Like Shevrin, speakers at Tuesday’s event, including Rep. James Bush, D-Miami, said that loss of donor support to the program could have a devastating effect on education opportunities for the state’s most vulnerable students.  

Jones, the second ranking member of the Democratic Caucus in the Florida House, is a strong advocate of LGBTQ rights. He has actively campaigned for protection of the LGBTQ community from discrimination in housing and employment.

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22 comments

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Anonymous February 7, 2020 - 1:42 pm

My child is a recipient of a step up scholarship and i can’t thank you enough for helping support that program

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Gisel February 9, 2020 - 11:57 am

MI HIJO LLEVA TRES AÑIS CON LA BECA Y ESTOY FELIZ ESPERO EN DIOS PUEDAN PENSAR MÁS EN LO JÓVENES Y NIÑOS BENDICIONES

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Rebecca M February 26, 2020 - 8:28 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you! From the bottom of our hearts. My kids would not be able to have an opportunity to be in an environment that’s supportive, encouraging, caring and enriching if it were not for this scholarship. I’m not able to attend the senate hearing in March at the state capital office so please relay this message:

Having attended public schools in Florida (elementary, middle, and high school) was scary and overwhelming. I was a determined student but experienced too many challenges. I was constantly harassed and made to feel ashamed because I looked different. Bullies were not successful when approaching me so they would resort to a physical altercation. Because I wouldn’t go down without defending myself, I was constantly suspended. Teachers would feel horrible because they saw and knew exactly what was going on but couldn’t intervene. I was told “just don’t hit back and only the other person will get suspended”. This did not seem like a good idea, as bullies never stop until you fight back.
My grades began to slip and I made excuses not to go to school. I began experimenting headaches, nausea, insomnia, stomach aches and panic attacks.
No student should ever have to experience this. It seemed like it would never end.
I graduated high school but felt as though I could have done so much better, if I could only focus on studying and not fear for my safety.
Now I’m a mother of 3 and the fear and anxiety came rushing back.
My kids attended a charter school only to have similar experiences. I thought the times changed and bullying was no longer tolerated. Unfortunately, kids now are just suppressing these feelings and finding unhealthy and violent ways to eventually let out their frustrations.

I prayed for kids in every school, whether it be public, charter, or private.
I kept thinking something has to change. Lord help us! I applied for scholarships only to be told there’s a long waiting list. August of 2019 I get a message saying my child was awarded a scholarship. I was shaking. I didn’t really understand what this meant. I called and rushed to find a school that had availability. I found one and the kids love it. They’re thriving. They are able to focus on they’re studies and enjoy their teachers and fellow students. The smiles on their faces are priceless. The peace in my heart is beyond words.

I tell my kids everyday that someone made this possible for them. One day we will be in the position to pay it forward and help make this possible for the next family.

Thank you to all who made this happen for so many families.
For those who are in opposition, I ask why? I see kids from every walk of life, belief, and faith benefiting from this amazing program. This scholarship is giving kids an opportunity they would never in a million years come by because of various situations.

Don’t take these beautiful smiles away!

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Marie February 7, 2020 - 1:47 pm

Thank fifth third Bank the master of the world the powerful God will blessings you from the head to toes,, God already knows what good and what bad for their children , And God understand you tried so hard to make the different thank again.

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Ocilia Diaz February 7, 2020 - 1:48 pm

Thank you Rep. Shervin Jones for speaking out on behalf of our Florida children in hopes that that sponsors understand the devastation it would cause. I applaud you and thank you from the bottom of my heart and every family out there with Step Up for Students Scholarships.

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Lisa Henrichs February 7, 2020 - 1:54 pm

Thank you for your hard work caring and dedication to the step up program. We so appreciate the program that our adopted grand children are blessed to partake of.

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Veronique Guillaume February 7, 2020 - 2:07 pm

I just want to say thank you to all the donors who help step up helping families in needs. Because you, we are able to give our kids a better education. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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Virginia Wilson February 7, 2020 - 3:02 pm

Thank you for advocating for the under privileged and drawing this distinction, that we not take out our current frustrations on the children for they are the hope of the future. My son is on a Step Up scholarship in a private school and is thriving. We also attend a church that is actively supportive of the LGBT community, and we are committed to bringing these communities together. I appreciate your help in keeping perspective in the goal of uniting. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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Melissa February 7, 2020 - 3:05 pm

Thank you Shevrin Jones! GOD certainly has blessed all of us and I hope EVERY PARENT out there knows the GODLY foundation from which you come! My son, Michael was a student of your mother’s in West Park, Florida from when he was in VPK! We never found a more GODLY foundation at any other school! Leaving was very difficult, but he was soon to start 4th grade and at the time, unfortunately, there wasn’t a 4th grade teacher for ANY of Mimi’s babies. Your mother is the most GOD FEARING, LORD PRAISING, RESPECTED TEACHER, LOVING MOTHER, WIFE AND SOULFUL GOSPEL SINGING WOMAN I’VE EVER MET! THE APPLE DIDN’T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE!! Women like HER that raise up men like YOU are unstoppable! SHE’S NOT JUST your mother, but a mother to many!! How inspirational it is to witness the fruits of her labor?! I want to thank you AGAIN because without GOD and your foundation that your mom (& Dad, too 😉 ) had built under you, none of this would have been possible! This is a day to be proud indeed! Not just because you have wonderful parents and have A GODLY foundation, but because THAT foundation and background is what makes you more successful than most! GOD is the fire in your desire to succeed for these children’s rights and to speak on their behalves as a GOD FEARING MAN!
AMEN. 🙏 Keep doing what you’re doing ❤️ We just love you and appreciate everything you and your family stand for in education!
Love, Michael Morrison’s mom.

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Itzel Muñoz nsva February 7, 2020 - 3:25 pm

Agradecida por todo. Gracias. Y muchas bendiciones sioenmpre

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dulcie barbaree February 7, 2020 - 4:16 pm

Thank you for your support and for making the truth known. Without this scholarship, my children most certainly wouldn’t be getting the education and support they are getting right now. We’ve had Step Up since my daughter entered 2nd grade .. she’s now in 5th. She was bullied and diagnosed with PTSD while in first grade. Step Up literally helped save her life.

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Adrianne Dickinson February 7, 2020 - 4:22 pm

Thank God for people like you’re to stand up and fight for families to have a choice for our children’s education.
Also and forever thank you’re for your support

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Denise Perez February 7, 2020 - 6:55 pm

Thank you for defending the Step Up For Students Scholarship because its all about children and their future. There are many schools that provide a choice for you, some are faith-based, yet, there many private schools to choose from that allow for our children to thrive in a diverse community. God bless and God bless our children😇🙌

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April February 7, 2020 - 10:21 pm

Thank you so much for your support for the Step Up For Students Scholarship. Both of my children benefit from this amazing program. Without it, I don’t know where they would be. We are extremely blessed and again we thank you so much! ❤️

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Dorane Richards February 8, 2020 - 3:36 am

Thank you Sir, my son has benefited from the program greatly and I appreciate your effort in saving the Scholarship. God bless you!

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Carol E. Clahar February 8, 2020 - 5:03 am

Truly I am echoing everything that everyone has already said. No point in being rhetorical but I will say many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart.

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Melissa February 8, 2020 - 4:41 pm

THANK YOU Shevrin Jones! And THANK YOU third fifth bank for your support! Stepup for kids in no way discriminated against any families or people, I cannot believe that this lie has been made up for political gain to attack innocent children and take away their scholarships, it’s so sad, what is this world coming to? I just don’t understand, so heartbreaking. My heart goes out to the supporters and donors and the stepup program for everything they do for these kids

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Gina Pecora February 8, 2020 - 4:51 pm

Thank you for your continued support of our Step Up for Students Scholarship. Your support is genuinely making a difference in the lives of so many children.

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Vicki February 9, 2020 - 1:57 pm

My daughter is a 4 year step up recipient, so this scholarship program means so much for our family. It means that she is able to go to the school that is right for her, which our family would not be able to afford otherwise. So thank you rep. Shervin Jones standing with us to fight against misinformed activist whose attack on this scholarship program is so unwarranted and unfounded. Thank you Third Fifth Back for not allowing the activists to bully you into cutting off your funding to this wonderful program that helps so many underprivileged children and families get the best fit for their education.

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Stephanie February 10, 2020 - 12:58 pm

I want to thank every single supporter and lending organizations for the Step Up Scholarships. Without this program, my children wouldn’t survive in public school. My oldest has high Anxiety and my 10 year old has Apraxia of Speech and Sensory Processing Disorder operating at a kindergarten level and would never make it in a regular school. The private school my children are in, is wonderful and both of my kids are thriving there beyond my expectations. So, thank you for standing up for us little people and understanding the urgency of a good, quality education. God Bless you all and again, thank you from the bottom of my heart

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Alicia February 10, 2020 - 1:00 pm

Thank you. My son has a disability and the scholarship made it possible for him to attend a school that would serve his needs. Your support is very much appreciated.

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Anonymous February 13, 2020 - 9:48 am

Amazing! Thanks so much for your support of our families, and helping us give them great educational opportunities they deserve.

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