School choice bill passes in the Florida House

One of the largest expansions of school choice in the country is moving forward in Florida.

"We’re going to offer tens if not hundreds or thousands of new low income, middle income and families of children with special needs the ability to send their children to the school that’s right for them," said State Rep. Randy Fine, R- Palm Bay.

Rep. Fine has been pushing the legislation, which passed on the Florida House on Wednesday.

But the news is concerning to teachers’ unions. They say this bill would put taxpayer dollars toward private and for-profit schools that would otherwise go to public schools.

"Any kind of diversion of funds is going to negatively impact our public schools. Public money should go to public schools and that’s the bottom line," said Volusia United Educators President Elizabeth Albert.

Rep. Fine has harsh words for the unions, especially after this year of teaching through COVID.

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"I believe failing to provide education is child abuse and what you’ve seen around the country with tens of millions of children, their lives will be forever changed by the irresponsible actions of teachers unions," said Rep. Fine.

But the unions say many children who attend private school ultimately return to public school and need to fill in the gaps in their education.

"I think it’s fine to have choice and I think choice is very empowering. But I don’t think that the ability to have that choice means taxpayer money has to pay for it," said Albert.

The bill is expected to move to the Senate for a vote Thursday.

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