Voters deserved to have a say in whether to allow the school district monopoly over schools to continue, but activist judges decided otherwise. The LWV patted themselves on the back while blocking mothers from voting on something most precious to them: the education of their children.
They grinned at the news while hurting the very women they want to run for office, squashing the term-limit policy and ensuring more career politicians stay cozy in their school board seats.
The once-laudable League disgraced its mission and showed it is yet another teachers’ union surrogate to obstructing school choice.
The devastating 4-3 Supreme Court decision to remove Amendment 8 from the ballot was a loss not just for so many students in desperate need of education reform, but for millions of voters who are now susceptible to disenfranchisement anytime an activist group pushes and funds its agenda.
In addition to term limits and civics education, the most publicly contentious priority was to create new pathways for public schools of choice for Florida’s families. We know that choice, competition and innovation are the avenues to continuous improvement of our education system.
More parents than ever are selecting schools outside of their zoned district school. Parents and the public at large approve of charter schools and other education choice options at an increasing rate. The education establishment sees these trends and has doubled down on its antiquated policies and structure. Their interest is in preserving the status quo, and maintaining power and control over the most sacred of choices — who will help raise our children.
And so, despite tremendous gains for our students, it is clear we still live in a state where the education establishment cares more about the system than its students. To them, students are cogs. They are considered “butts in seats.” I know this is not the sentiment of so many hardworking, passionate individual teachers, but the union mentality has lost sight of what matters. It is incredibly sad, but I will not pretend it’s surprising.
These latest actions ensure that student-centered choice will now have to expand further through private options instead. Amendment 8 would have created a pathway to more high-quality public schools, but the monopoly-defenders and activist Supreme Court of Florida won’t have it.
The students most impacted by this awful decision cannot write checks, organize to write misleading editorials or hire high-priced out-of-state lawyers to distort the truth in the courtroom. I was proud and determined to speak up for them. And will continue to do so.
Education reformers do not give up on students. The greater mission of bringing true education freedom to every family in Florida will continue. It is our goal that every child be afforded a free public education that meets his or her unique needs.
Schools can look different and be a perfect fit for an individual child. Please stop fearing change. Schools of choice are real schools too, with real students and loving teachers. That is all that matters.
Families want choices. Choices are working for students. We will find a way to give them the choices they deserve.
You can be sure this is not the end. If anything, roadblocks re-energize reformers. And we have thick skin.
Constitution Revision Commissioner Erika Donalds is a mother of three school-age children and CPA serving on the Collier County School Board. She was the main sponsor of Amendment 8 on the Revision Commission.