Marie-Claire Leman, a Leon County public school parent and Fund Education Now associate testified this week in the Senate Education Committee against SB86 by Dennis Baxley which seeks to limit the types of degrees Bright Futures Scholarship recipients can earn. SB86 doesn’t even list which degrees the swill not lead to to jobs. The Senate Education Committee passed it blind with no knowledge of which students will be affected and how broad the scope. Keep in mind, Bright Futures is funded by lottery revenue NOT the public education budget. We are very grateful that Marie-Claire took the time to speak up against this state-sponsored attack on student “choice.” Student testimony was both compelling and heartbreaking. They traveled from all over the state but the committee only gave them 30 seconds to speak.
Read Marie-Claire’s complete testimony against SB 86 (watch at 1:12:36):
1- For years I’ve heard this committee argue that we need more choice in K-12 education, that students need to be able to find an educational program that meets their needs, that we need to prioritize educational freedom. But now, after students have worked hard in high school, at a time when they finally get to follow their passion and pursue their own ambitions, when arguably educational freedom is most important, the government will dictate what they should study.
2- The second concern I have is with the lack of transparency in this bill. The crux of the bill pertains to a list that does not exist yet. You are asked to vote on a bill, the substance of which has not been determined. And the bill provides for this list to be changed annually. In any given year, students will be applying to college and choosing a program before it is possible for them to know if their program of choice was spared from being added to the list of ineligible programs. This will lead to more students choosing to apply and study out of state, which is the opposite of what was intended with these scholarships.
3- As many others will no doubt point out, it is very problematic to claim that given programs are without intrinsic value based on whether they “lead directly to employment”. Among other things, this will lead to graduate degrees being even more elitist due to students needing to cover the cost of undergraduate degrees that have traditionally been foundational for those professional and graduate degrees.
The student testimony was both heartbreaking and extraordinarily compelling. Watch at 1:10-54. You can watch the entire committee meeting here. It strains credulity as to why these senators voted yes such toxic bill. Here’s how the FL Senate Education Committee voted on SB 86:
SB 86 which alters which degrees are eligible for Bright Futures passed 5/4 along party lines.
Yes on SB 86:
Sen. Jennifer Bradley R, District 5, email@example.com
Sen. Doug Broxson R, District 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Manny Diaz R, District 36, email@example.com
Sen. Travis Hutson R, District 7, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo R, District 28, email@example.com
Absent/did not vote: Sen. Joe Gruters, R, District 23, firstname.lastname@example.org
No on SB 86
Sen. Lori Berman D, District 31, email@example.com
Sen. Tina Polsky D, District 29, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Perry Thurston D, District 33, email@example.com
Sen. Shevrin Jones D, District 35, firstname.lastname@example.org