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Podcast

podcastED: Senator Jeff Brandes on the future of public education

If you ask Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) what he thinks the education world will look like in the year 2040, he’ll tell you it will be going back to the past. “I see us moving back to the one-room schoolhouse where we have students of different capabilities working with each other to help everyone rise,” Brandes says. The Pinellas County lawmaker pushes innovative education policies every year in the Florida Legislature, but new leadership more focused on education choice appear to be giving his ideas more traction. His signature education bill this session, SB 226, would expand a mastery-based education...
Vance Aloupis

podcastED: Rep. Vance Aloupis on early childhood education, school choice

Rep. Vance Aloupis, R-Miami, narrowly beat his Democratic opponent in 2018 to represent Florida’s 115th District, a seat held by former Education Committee Chair Michael Bileca. One of many freshman members serving this year on House education committees, Aloupis wants to become a legislative leader in early childhood development. The Children’s Movement of Florida’s chief executive officer is carrying HB 1027 this session, which requires the state’s Office of Early Learning to develop training and course standards for school readiness program providers. “We have done a disservice to our public education system, and more importantly our children, by not professionalizing early...

Meet Florida’s newest school choice Democrat

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – If you want to know why Florida state Rep. James Bush III supports educational choice, take a ride with him. Just a few blocks from his legislative office, District 109 – which Bush called “one of the largest and poorest and most violent and neglected districts in the state” – is more Mad Max than Miami, a hodge-podge of industrial zoning and bars-over-windows residential. On a recent Sunday, Bush bumped a rented Mustang down a moonscape of graded road, lined with teetering chain-link fence and littered with cast-offs: a flat-screen TV, a jet ski, a crushed camper...
teacher unions

podcastED: ‘We will see widespread school choice when we can educate teachers on the truth’

Rebecca Friedrichs is the fearless California public school teacher best known for being lead plaintiff in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the high-profile lawsuit that – until the unexpected death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016 – was destined to end the union practice of forcibly collecting “agency fees” from non-union members. (Subsequently, last June, Janus v. AFSCME did end the practice.) But what people may not know about Friedrichs is how much her support for educational choice fueled that crusade. In her just-released autobiography, “Standing Up To Goliath,” Friedrichs details her rise from rank-and-file teacher to anti-union...

podcastED: Pastor Robert Ward – Educational choice gives black parents hope

If anybody doubts the passion for educational choice in black communities, come visit Mt. Moriah Christian Fundamental School in predominantly black south St. Petersburg, Fla. and chat with its founder, Pastor Robert Ward. Ward started the private micro-school for grades 6-8 in 2011 with three students. Now it has 56. And now it’s routinely turning away children because there are waiting lists, both for the school and for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income students, the largest private school choice program in America. (The scholarship is administered by nonprofits such as Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog.) “Parents are...

podcastED: Incoming House Education Chair Jennifer Sullivan

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...

Expanding options for military families – Sen. Tim Scott, podcastED

Sen. Tim Scott has seen how hard it can be for military families to find educational opportunities for their children as they move from one base to another. His older brother was a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army. His younger brother is a colonel in the Air Force. Their experiences trying to find schools for their children helped inspire the CHOICE Act. Scott's legislation would create pilot scholarship programs on at least five military bases. "I know firsthand that a parent doesn't choose the base they go to, and therefore, can only hope and pray that the education is good," the South...

Improving public education, by choice: Darryl Rouson, podcastED

Florida State Sen. Darryl Rouson went to Catholic schools from first grade through college. He wants low-income families from his district to have the same opportunity. He's sent his own children to public schools, so he wants Florida's public school system to be as strong as possible. During a podcast interview with Denisha Merriweather, a Florida school choice alum now studying to become a social worker, Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, explains how his life experience has informed his view that supporting school choice and supporting public education are not in conflict. "I want a high-quality, fully funded public education, but at the...