At the end of every week, we praise a political playmaker, “swipe left” on the week’s biggest political loser, and explain what it all means for Florida’s political arena.
👍🏆 CHAMP: State Representative Shevrin Jones (D)
While the majority of Democrats are applauding corporations like Wells Fargo and Wyndham Destinations for halting donations to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC), one state lawmaker is attempting to bridge the gap between those who support the tax credit and those who view the voucher program as anti-LGBTQ.
Jones, a state representative and strong advocate of LGBTQ community, defended the scholarship this week — which has been accused of discriminating against LGBTQ students — claiming that a mass migration of corporate dollars will do more harm than good.
“I’m a devout supporter of public schools and I believe parents should be able to decide,” Jones told Sayfie Review. “If dollars are being taken away, it would take children out of school and make them fall through the gaps because not getting an education makes us all lose.”
The FTC, established in 2001, helps over 100,000 low-income families across the state, a majority of which are minority students, attend better-performing schools.
But an “investigation” by the Orlando Sentinel last month conveniently found that the program, financed mostly by corporations and businesses, funded 156 private Christian schools that believe in a traditional marriage. Of the 156 schools, 83 did not allow gay students to enroll. The report led to an exodus of donors from the scholarship program.
The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), however, refuted these claims, citing that there had been no evidence of any children being denied admission or expelled from these schools based on their sexual identity.
“What is happening in this situation, is that a few at the Orlando Sentinel have always taken issue with programs that are proven to continually increase the lives of poor and minority children, and are using this angle as nothing more than a ruse to create scare tactics and trample on the constitutional rights we all enjoy – the freedom of religion, and the freedom of speech,” the department said in a statement obtained by The Hill.
Jones, the first and only openly gay black state lawmaker, is in a unique position to broker a deal between those who understand the value of the scholarship and those on the radical left attempting to take quality education away from underprivileged children.
👎❌ CHUMP: State Representative Carlos Smith (D)
On the opposite end of the fight to protect low-income children from having their education stripped from them is Democrat Carlos Smith.
Smith, an openly gay Latino legislator in the Florida House, is one of the many Democratic lawmakers who seek to prohibit kids from benefiting from the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.
Unlike our “Champ of the Week,” Smith, along with the always self-indulgent Representative Anna Eskamani, has led a crusade this week against the program that expands educational opportunities for children of families with limited financial resources.
The progressive duo has made their mission to claim that private Christian schools funded by the tax credit are discriminating against LGBTQ students — a declaration that has yet to be proven.
Thank you @CarlosGSmith , @AnnaForFlorida , and others for your commitment to protecting LGBTQ youth. We stand with you in calling for schools to be a safe place of learning for ALL young people – including LGBTQ students. #FlaPol
— Equality Florida (@equalityfl) February 7, 2020
The group has also taken aim at corporations for backing the scholarship. On Friday, Fifth Third Bank said they would continue to donate to a Florida scholarship program.
Let’s continue to work together to ensure those changes actually materialize to ensure voucher-funded private schools are open to all students. 2/2
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) February 7, 2020