Editor’s note: In his closing argument for school choice bill HB 7045, Fine, R-Palm Bay, told members of the House Appropriations Committee his own story about how the issue of school choice affected two generations of his family. The bill passed and is now headed to a vote on the House floor.

When I run these bills, I think of the story of two children.

One was a young boy who was in a public school, who was the son of two parents who didn’t have a lot of money, and had a pretty tough time of it, beat up and bullied and harassed to the point where he was not allowed to eat in the public-school cafeteria.

He had to eat in the teachers’ lounge. He had a key to the principal’s office so that he could go hide out there (from) the gangs of kids who didn’t like him very much, and he begged his parents every day to put him in a private school.  And his parents loved him a lot, but they didn’t have the money to do that.

I think about another kid who had an issue in his public school in terms of how he was being taught, nothing like the other boy. But his parents had resources; they had money. And it wasn’t 24 hours after that kid had his problem that he was taken out of that school, and he was put in a private school. He didn’t get a voucher; his parents were wealthy, and they could do that.

The first boy was me. The second boy is my son.

I do this for them.

Because I’m lucky. I made it through all that hell, and I made something of my life, and so I can take care of that for my children.

But whether you’re special needs or low income, your education should not be a function of where you live. It should not be a function of the school you go to. Every parent should have the same choices that my parents did not have for me, but I have for my kid.

That is why I run this bill. I do this for the kids … I will make sure this bill doesn’t hurt any of them.

You have my word. And with that, I ask for your favorable support.

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