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Inside the Florida Governor's Race: Candidate Crist and School Choice

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Education has become a major part of the governor's race in Florida between Republican incumbent Rick Scott and former-Republican governor now Democratic nominee Charlie Crist.

In fact, a recent poll shows that education is the second-most important policy topic among residents. My colleague Andrew Ujifusa is in Florida this week, and he stopped by a campaign field office in Kissimmee to speak with Crist supporters who had plenty to say about education reform:

Both [Celeste Williams, an attorney who is running for state representative in central Florida] and Albyn Roman, the Polk County president of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus in the state, derided Scott for being a "privatizer." Roman singled out the presence in Florida of "for-profit education at the expense of public education," a reference to for-profit charter management organizations. Crist made a general allusion to this idea when he criticized Scott for trying to put the state in general "up for sale."

But despite their enthusiasm for Crist, supporters acknowledged that—assuming the GOP keeps control of the legislature—there are limits to what Crist can accomplish.
Take the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, the nation's largest school choice program. Earlier this year, Scott approved legislation that will expand it by allowing more families, based on increasing household income limits, to be eligible for the scholarship. Crist's position on the scholarships has been the topic of some debate. Earlier this month, he appeared to side, albeit not very forcefully, with the Florida Education Association in its legal battle against that legislation. Crist said the state teachers' union, which has endorsed him, has "every right" to sue over the scholarship-expansion bill, and refused to say it should drop the suit.

You can follow the Florida Governor's race on Andrew's StateEd Watch blog.

RELATED: Challenge to Florida School Choice Law Hits Setback

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