The school “choice” movement suffered a significant setback in the Florida Senate yesterday when the companion bill to HB 7099 was withdrawn by its sponsor Senator Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton).
We have devoted much of our space in recent weeks to galvanizing progressive opinion against HB 7099. Much like the initial “A+ plan” pushed by Governor Bush in 1999 and every effort to advance vouchers since, we have seen our side of the issue dominated by grassroots activists, parents, teachers, civic minded leaders and progressives. This year as always we have been opposed by the corporate interests that have used their financial might to push for-profit schools down the throats of Floridians, well compensated Tallahassee based lobbyists and ideological partisans looking to undermine the teachers union as a way to “defund” the left for future political campaigns.
As a veteran of many of the fights on this issue between 1999 and 2007 who has recently returned to the scene, I can say that those pushing school “choice” always have a profit motive and despite Thursday’s statement by John Kirtley that the legislation appears dead for 2014, we cannot demobilize. Kirtley and his allies are almost certain to try and bring back this legislation in some manner this session. It is important that they be stopped.
I have seen the ups and downs of this fight in the past. As we have exposed this week with a series of videos, school “choice” advocates have bought access into the Democratic Party while admitting they face constitutional questions over the agenda they push.
We have previously chronicled how Kirtley and his allies have flipped Democrats in the past and we were concerned that might happen again this session. The coalescing of Democrat in the past week against the aims of the bandwagon of monied and ideological interests backing school “choice” played a big role in the confusion that now reigns in the camp of the proponents of destroying Florida’s public education.
We are very proud to have been a small part of the coalition that helped bring progressives and Democratic House members together on this issue of the utmost importance. We want to thank the House members and the volunteer leaders that worked with us in this effort. We are winning, but must caution that victory for this year is not yet at hand.
Given my personal experience with this issue in the past, despite Mr. Kirtley’s statement, the “choice” proponents will come up with another option to bring this dangerous legislation back in the Senate. Thus, we will continue to highlight the efforts of the dangerous interests that back school “choice” legislation as well as those of their legislative allies.
We want to thank our readers for all they have done in the past week to make themselves known on this issue. We have shown once again that grassroots advocacy and belief in public education still can carry the day.