How Florida Achieved School Choice

Published June 1, 1999

The successful effort to pass voucher legislation in Florida had three key components: GOP control of the state House and Senate, bold leadership from Governor Jeb Bush and Lt. Governor Frank Brogan, and support from Floridians for School Choice (FSC).

FSC, a parent-based grassroots organization, formed just last spring as a public awareness project. Patrick Heffernan, the group’s president, and members of his board of directors founded the organization after attending a CEO America school choice conference in 1997.

During the past year, FSC identified and recruited over 40,000 parents and supporters, and coordinated a business coalition in support of the Bush-Brogan A+ Plan. The coalition included the state chamber of commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, the National Federation of Independent Business, Citizens for a Sound Economy, and the Florida Farm Bureau. On April 5, FSC organized the nation’s largest school choice rally to date, with some 1,000 parents and children converging on the capitol building in Tallahassee from as far away as Orlando and Jacksonville.

“Florida’s legislators listened to the message sent by voters last November: We want our tax dollars to go to effective schools, whether they’re operated by the government or not,” said Heffernan.