Due to Choice Fight, Florida Adds School Board Member Choice: What Next?

If I had a nickel for every time the word choice was used on this blog, my college fund would be well on its way. (Of course, it’s not clear when or how a perpetual 5-year-old pursues postsecondary education, but that’s a conundrum to unpack on another day.) Well, it’s about time to make a few more clinks in the piggy bank.

Check out what EdFly blogger Mike Thomas’s story about a Florida official who wanted to give his fellow school board directors more choice of representation, partly because his views were not being represented on (you guessed it) choice:

The idea was born out of frustration. The [Florida School Boards Association] joined the state’s teachers union last year in a lawsuit to stop a tax-credit scholarship program for low-income children. That prompted an outcry from civil rights activists, parents, legislators and other advocates of school choice.

The president of the FSBA happened to be a two-term incumbent on the Indian River School Board. [Shawn] Frost ran against her last year and won.

You know Florida’s tax credit scholarship program, right? The largest in the country, it serves nearly 70,000 students seeking a better educational opportunity with the generous donations of businesses who want to support scholarships. These low-income kids use the tuition support provided through a non-profit scholarship organization to better their lives.

Last September I told you how the anti-choice Empire was striking back by suing in court to challenge the legality of the program, which would take away these scholarships. Then this girl Denisha Merriweather came back to tell her scholarship success story on video, signifying that the school choice Jedi had returned.

Thomas’s article notes that a couple months ago, Mr. Frost and a handful of other school board directors across the Sunshine State came together to create an alternative, a competitor to the FSBA: the Florida Coalition of School Board Members (FCSBM).

Interestingly, about the same time here, our state’s big school boards association submitted a friendly brief in favor of the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program before the Colorado Supreme Court. Yes, in favor of. Not because CASB is a big fan of private school choice, because they’re not really. But because, as Vincent Carroll of the Denver Post noted, they took a principled stand on local control.

I am not aware of any direct competitors to CASB that would give competitive membership options to Colorado school board members. (Though this other new group CoCatalyst seems to supplement what is already provided and to fill a different niche.) Who knows what might materialize in the future? But as so often seems the case, Florida may have some insights and experiences to share.

It’s not just students, parents, and teachers who need more choice. The locally elected officials who oversee education also can benefit. Chalk up some more loose change for Eddie’s Eventual College Fund.