“Florida had this rapidly expanding portfolio of school choice options,” said Tuthill, the president of Step Up For Students, which administers the state’s tax credit scholarship program. “Yet there was little dialogue among the groups representing those choices. We weren’t talking to each other about what was working, what wasn’t, and why.”
Several important players in this bourgeoning movement recognized the need for more collaboration. Florida Virtual School and Step Up For Students, among others, wanted to see the school choice movement united, so they could learn from each other and talk through any differences.
Thus, FACE was born.
Florida Alliance for Choices in Education, or FACE, is comprised of more than 50 members, representing a diverse coalition of organizations dedicated to providing Florida school children with more educational options. Such organizations include National Coalition of Public School Options, Florida Charter School Alliance, Foundation for Florida’s Future, and StudentsFirst – all coming together with the belief that, as the FACE website says, “State policy should enable all parents to be fully engaged in their children’s education and to access those learning options that best meet their children’s needs.”
Step Up For Students (which co-hosts this blog) staffed the initial effort. Three individuals – Wendy Howard, a parent advocate from Tampa; Jim Horne, a former legislator and state education commissioner; and Julie Young, president and CEO of Florida Virtual School – spent a year facilitating outreach and diplomacy, eventually bringing all components of choice together in one organization.
Florida is the first state to do this.