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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Voucher supporters seek backing from Pasco School Board



Crystal Kryder had a simple message for the Pasco County School Board: Support vouchers.

Students come to First Christian Academy in New Port Richey for many reasons, the mother of three told the board, and not all can afford the cost. Step Up For Students, the organization that oversees the state's corporate tax credit scholarships, makes it happen for nearly half of the school's students, she said.

Kryder spoke of the school's recent salutatorian, who she said grew academically and socially in the school with a voucher. "This wouldn’t have been possible for her to do without the Step Up program," she said, urging the School Board to throw its weight behind vouchers.

And she was not alone. Another voucher proponent from a Dade City Christian school also asked the board to back vouchers, calling the system "wonderful." A few others in the audience nodded in support but did not speak.

The comments were unusual, in that members of the public have not addressed vouchers in this forum over the past several years. But they were not wholly unexpected, in light of the Florida School Boards Association's participation in a high profile lawsuit challenging the state program's constitutionality.

Step Up For Students founder John Kirtley has made clear that another political group he works with will target board members across Florida who fight the choice model. A new organization called Voices for Choices, meanwhile, sent out an "action alert" urging voucher backers to reach out to their boards, urging them to denounce the lawsuit or at least support vouchers.

Pasco board chairwoman Alison Crumbley said she was not surprised by the activity. She has gotten "a lot of e-mails" on the issue, but has tried to stay out of the conversation. "I don't make that decision," Crumbley said, referring to both the lawsuit and the voucher legislation.

Some board members in other counties have spoken against the lawsuit, which is growing increasingly political. So far, only the initial complaint is filed, leaving plenty of time for rhetoric to increase. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:58am]


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