Word for word: Democratic lawmaker says education choice saved his life

Editor’s note: Last week, as members of the Florida House Education & Employment Committee debated HB 1, some lawmakers shared how education choice, or the lack of it, shaped their lives. Among them was Rep. Gallop Franklin II. The Tallahassee Democrat, one of two members of his party who joined the Republican majority in supporting the education savings account legislation, offered remarks during debate on the bill, which cleared its last committee on Friday and heads to the House floor.

“There is a story I want to tell you. There was a young boy who was in school, and his teachers told him because of his ADHD and the issues he had and behavior problems, he was more destined for jail than he was to graduate from high school.

At the time, his mother worked for the state of Florida and his dad worked overnight stocking shelves for Publix pharmacy. And they had to make a decision … Well, that kid was homeschooled from second grade to eighth grade. He eventually ended up going back to public school and actually graduating in the top 10 percent of his class.

After that, he went to college and became student body president, a pharmacist, and now is a state representative. So, this person I’m talking about was actually me. I embody school choice and would not be who I am today without those options …

Before school choice, to be honest with you, only wealthy people had a choice to look for wherever they could put their children. But now that we’re prioritizing this bill to ensure that we can focus on the low- middle class and middle-class working families to have that option, I believe (it) will help with student success.

Often times, we align ourselves behind institutions, and I completely support public schools, but I don’t believe every shoe fits all feet, and I would be in jail today if not for my mother making the sacrifice to save my life.”

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BY Lisa Buie

Lisa Buie is senior reporter for NextSteps. The daughter of a public school superintendent, she spent more than a dozen years as a reporter and bureau chief at the Tampa Bay Times before joining Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, where she served for nearly five years as marketing and communications manager. She lives with her husband and their teenage son, who has benefited from education choice.