podcastED: SUFS president Doug Tuthill interviews co-authors of paper that explores Black education choice boom in Florida

On this episode, Tuthill speaks with Denisha Merriweather, founder of Black Minds Matter and director of public relations and content marketing at the American Federation for Children, and Ron Matus, director of policy and public affairs at Step Up For Students, about their new report, Controlling the Narrative: Parental Choice, Black Empowerment, and Lessons from Florida.

(Dava Hankerson, director of enterprise data and research at Step Up For Students, and Nathaniel Cunneen, a communications associate at the American Federation for Children, also contributed to the report.)

The three discuss how Florida has become a boom for Black families seeking alternative education options through choice. More than 100,000 Black students – one in six – participate in some type of non-district choice program, such as a charter school or a private school through state sponsored scholarships.

Tuthill, Merriweather and Matus also discuss the degree of empowerment that education choice provides Black educators through autonomy and small business opportunities, such as microschools, as flexible spending programs like education savings accounts take hold nationally.

“It’s a story that’s been unfolding in front of us, which I don’t think people realize the extent of – the degree to which Black families have embraced education choice in all its forms … This was an opportunity to put a strong spotlight on something that’s been going on for 20 or 25 years.”


  • Statistics on Black families utilizing education choice in Florida over the last two decades
  • Expanding opportunities for Black educators to utilize choice to create their own school models
  • Merriweather’s organization, Black Minds Matter, and the work it’s doing to promote choice for Black communities
  • How education savings accounts provide opportunity to accelerate education choice options
  • Tackling the pervasive myth that education choice hurts public school districts