Carrie Meek, voucher supporter
Carrie Meek, the former U.S. Congresswoman from Miami and an icon in the black community, voted against private-school vouchers when she was in D.C. But now, she's not only supporting them, her foundation is giving them away.
The Gradebook has learned the Florida Department of Education approved the Carrie Meek Foundation as a scholarship funding organization in March, meaning the foundation can now offer corporate tax-credit vouchers to low-income families. "We believe that every child deserves the best education possible," says the foundation's website, "and every parent deserves the right to choose the school that's best for them."
Is a political shift afoot? Maybe.
Meek's apparent change of heart could be significant because by and large, black lawmakers in Florida haven't been fond of vouchers, even though minority students are a majority of the recipients. And it comes on top of other, less-dramatic signs of change in recent years, including the support of some black lawmakers for some voucher bills.
It's too early to say where all this is going, but it's worth watching, given the potential clash between the black community and the teachers' unions, two of the biggest constituencies in the Democratic Party. (By the way, another voucher supporter, Al Lawson, a black Democrat from Tallahassee, will be the minority leader in the state Senate next year.)
- Ron Matus, state education reporter