Pro-voucher forces claim victory in Florida state races
The Florida Education Association might have massively outspent pro-voucher groups in Florida's election cycle, but it's not the teacher union claiming victory after the ballot tally.
Florida Federation for Children, a group led by key backers of the state's tax credit scholarship and similar programs, cheered late Tuesday its successful influence in 20 of the 21 state House and Senate races it involved itself in. Each race featured candidates who strongly favored school choice issues including open enrollment and voucher-like systems.
"Florida voters have shown their commitment to giving every child the opportunity to find the educational environment that best suits their individual needs," John Kirtley, Federation chairman and founder of Florida's tax credit scholarships model, said in a news release. "Although we are faced with lawsuits against the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program and McKay Scholarships, tonight's results reveal the public's desire to empower parents with the ability to make the best decisions for their childrens' educations."
Among the big winners for the Federation was state Rep. Manny Diaz, a charter school employee who has led key education committees in the House. Diaz's seat was perhaps the key target for the FEA and other Democratic-focused groups. The Federation also backed Dana Young, a Tampa Republican who won a tough bid to move from the House to the Senate, and Frank Artiles, who ousted public school teacher Dwight Bullard from the Senate.
The Federation, which vocally has opposed a lawsuit challenging Florida's tax credit scholarship, surfaced in elections two years ago when it helped oust two leaders of the Florida School Boards Association. The FSBA was involved in the suit at the time, but later walked away from the case.