Dougco Choice Spirit on Display with Aspiring Florida School Board Leader

Writing over at redefinED today, Travis Pillow features a Floridian named Brian Graham, a school choice supporter who is running for his local Board of Education:

If he’s successful this fall, he will join the small but growing ranks of school board members around the state – including his friend Jason Fischer in neighboring Duval County – who say school districts should embrace the full range of options available to parents, and look to add more of their own.

A couple cursory comments. First off, because of the public positions he has taken, little Eddie wishes Mr. Pillow well. Second, it appears the Sunshine State holds school board elections on regular election days in even-numbered years. I wouldn’t mind Colorado considering that change.

Interestingly, Mr. Graham works for the offices of another school district, while pursuing an elected position in his relatively affluent Clay County, a school district Pillow describes as “among the most highly rated.” Like me, the candidate favors an all-of-the-above approach to school choice. According to the article, a key policy goal is to “create an open enrollment program, allowing students to enroll in any public school that has room for them.”

While Florida may have us beat in some areas, open enrollment is one where Clay County, Florida — like the bold mavericks in North Carolina — could take a lesson from Colorado. And more specifically from Douglas County, which has built a stronger open enrollment policy thanks to key input from my Education Policy Center friends.

I don’t believe Florida school boards have as much latitude as their Colorado counterparts, but a reform-minded leader like Graham or Fischer likely could glean some positive insights from the great work (including an “all-of-the-above” school choice approach) done in Douglas County.

Three or four years ago, Dougco board leaders like John Carson eloquently proclaimed confidence in their own district schools and programs by inviting an unprecedented level of competition through parental choice (most notably including the Choice Scholarship Program). Now, the redefinED piece has acquainted us with someone from Florida who certainly speaks as if he’s cut from the same mold.

Let’s hope the spirit continues catching. May it lead to excellent results not only for the students who avail themselves of the new options, but also for those who remain in the traditional options under the fearless leadership of those who embrace parental choice.