They came by the hundreds wearing bright yellow shirts emblazoned with School Choice Day across the front.
Kids from around Florida waved signs outside the Capitol with messages scrawled in different colors:
“Thank you for my scholarship.”
“Parental choice matters.”
“We need educational options.”
The event drew lawmakers and other state leaders. Education Commissioner Tony Bennett took the podium first.
“I come to you today as a person who has spent almost 30 years believing that parents and students should have the ultimate right to choose the educational opportunity that meets their needs,” Bennett said. “It amazes me that we live in a land of freedom…and yet people oppose the freedom of parents and children to choose their schools.”
Gov. Rick Scott told the kids they’re changing the direction of the state.
“Everyone of you has a dream,” Scott said. “The right to choose the school that you want to go to, to learn what you want to learn the way you want to learn, is your right.”
The group came to support an assortment of proposed bills relating to charter schools, digital learning, parent empowerment, and career education.
“It is terrible to have a zip code determine where you can go to school,” said Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach.
More than half a dozen sponsors were listed on the back of those bright yellow shirts worn by students and adults.
The Florida Education Association was not among them.
“The political leadership seems to love the annual event,” said the FEA’s Mark Pudlow. “I wonder how different the reaction would be if public school administrators yanked students out of class to rally for something like more funding for public schools.”
It’s the fourth year for the school choice event at the Capitol.