The parents and students came from magnet schools, career academies, virtual schools, charter schools, home schools and private schools that accept vouchers and tax credit scholarships.
Among their messages: Options matter.
“If your child was in the same situation and he’s not progressing, you have to do what you have to do,” said Eboni Tucker-Smith, who used a McKay voucher to put her son Daquan in an Orlando private school after he struggled in public school. “Now he’s doing great. He started opening up, singing. It brought tears to me.”
“It’s working,” she continued about school choice. “Leave it alone.”
No, don’t leave it alone, said Regina Davis, who has three children in Miami-Dade magnet schools. Expand it.
“I don’t want to be forced to put my child anywhere,” said Regina Davis, who boarded a bus at 3 a.m. to make the rally. “If we can’t get the school system to provide a high-standard education, we’re going to do whatever it takes.”
In less than a generation, school choice in Florida has quietly gone mainstream, with 43 percent of students now attending a school other than their neighborhood school. This year alone, more than 200,000 parents chose magnet schools, at least 150,000 chose career academies, 200,000 chose charters, and 50,000 chose tax-credit scholarships to send their kids to private schools.
Many at the rally said they appreciated the growing list of options, but some said there still weren’t enough.