Moral Monday protests in Tallahassee will target civil rights

02/24/14 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: Moral Monday, civil rights, activism, Voting rights, Stand Your Ground, NAACP, equality florida, school vouchers


WMNF file photo, 2014

photo by Ashley Whitney

Activists from across the state will converge on Tallahassee next week for Moral Monday. More than a dozen groups will demand a host of changes to state laws. Reverend R.L. Gundy of the Florida Southern Christian Leadership Conference says the coalition aims at tackling issues surrounding low-income and minority Florida residents.

“Florida is the last Birmingham of the South. Our rights are trampled over by uncaring and uncertain legislative bodies that simply say, we’re going to legislate these things … they gerrymandered these districts that if we’re not careful, when things change in Florida, we’ll have another apartheid system in the State of Florida.”

Among those issues are restoring voting rights to returning citizens who have completed prison sentences for felony convictions. One of the biggest issues activists are targeting is the state’s failure to accept federal funding - $51 billion – to expand Medicaid to more than a million people who now fall into a coverage gap. That means they don’t qualify for healthcare subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, but they can’t get Medicaid either. Tobias Packer is the senior communications coordinator for SEIU Florida – a state labor union.

“In a study published in late January, researchers from Harvard University and … estimate between 1,100 and 2,200 Floridians will die from lack of Medicaid access. That translates to approximately six deaths per day.”

Activists in North Carolina organized Moral Monday actions last year and another this month on the fifty-fourth anniversary of a civil rights movement launched in Greensboro. The protests there drew thousands and took aim at many policies passed by the Republican-controlled legislature similar to laws passed in Florida. One parallel complaint among both Florida and North Carolina groups is a push for school vouchers that allow students in failing public schools to use public funding to go to a private school. Adora Obi-Nweze said policies like that allow the state to ignore struggling public schools.

“It’s very critical that we get a high quality education for our children. The dollars that are being cut as a result of dollars being siphoned off from the public school district is stopping our children from being able to have a quality education and pushing them into the jailhouse pipeline.”

Nweze says the groups will also give Governor Rick Scott a report card grading his performance.

“In terms of identifying those issues that were not passed in last year’s legislative session and those bills that will be addressed in this year’s session.”

Based on the laundry list of complaints laid out during a phone conference Monday, that report card isn’t likely to be very good. Among other complaints is Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law. Critics say it gives vigilantes an excuse to shoot first and think later. Dareon Bolden, president of the Baptist Leadership Conference of Duval County, says it’s a law that seems to disproportionately affect African-Americans.

“Whereby, [George] Zimmerman walked and Marissa Alexander received 20-years. No one got injured in her incident, where a young boy, Trayvon Martin, life got ended with [George] Zimmerman.”

Bolden is referring to George Zimmerman who was acquitted of murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Marissa Alexander is the woman sentenced based on mandatory minimums after she fired a warning shot near her husband who had a history of abuse and she claims was threatening her. Florida lawmakers have so far failed to make any changes to the law despite public outcry. Mallory Garner-Wells with Equality Florida says her group stands in solidarity with all the others. She adds her group is pushing for a law called the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.

“Which would make it illegal to fire somebody just because they’re gay. Just to clarify, right now, in 2014 in the State of Florida, someone can be fired from their job, denied access housing or public accommodations like hotels, movie theaters and sports stadiums simply because they’re gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender.”

Activists hope the March 3 Moral Monday protests will get more voters to the polls this November and offer a chance to educate people on issues. In addition to Florida and North Carolina, Moral Monday protests have also been organized in Georgia and South Carolina.

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Hello! My name is Ron Matus. I'm a former Tampa Bay Times education reporter who now works for Step Up For Students, the nonprofit here in Tampa that administers the state's tax credit scholarship program. I have great admiration for the SCLC and NAACP (and WMNF) and share their concerns about the challenges facing low-income and minority Floridians. It is in that vein that I just wanted to note a few things about the program: * The scholarships are available to students who qualify for free- or reduced price-lunch. They do not hinge at all on whether the student is in a "failing school" - a term we do not use or favor. That description of the program has popped up in multiple media stories in recent days, so I just wanted to clarify. * The scholarship students are required by law to take a state-approved standardized test (thought it doesn't have to be the FCAT) and we know from six years worth of test data that 1) the students were the lowest-performing students in the public schools they left behind and 2) in their new schools, they are making the same annual academic gains as students of all income levels nationally. * The program does not drain money from public schools, as noted by seven reports over the years from five independent and highly regarded agencies. This year, the scholarship amount is $4,880, which is roughly half the total spending per pupil in Florida public schools. I'm happy to answer any questions anybody out there has about the program. I can be reached at 813-402-0207.

Everyone has a choice where they send their children to school. SUFS does not take away from low income minority families like mine, it gives my minority sons a chance to have Catholic school education that I could never afford on my own... Thank you SUFS!

Great program....Keep up the good work!!!!!

Step up for students is a blessing! 1st the $4880 doesn't cover all the cost for a private education--it helps cover most of it. Nonetheless, awarded families are willing to sacrifice to pay the difference and invest in their children's education. My oldest son is in the honor society and my youngest loves school. Thank you Step Up for helping us to give our children the best education possible! One more note-- we do NOT live in a failing school district. However, we prefer our children to attend private school.

my daughter has use this program 4 yrs. its was the best thing i did for my daughter.. the school is smaller... she focus more since leaving regular school.. i wouldn't know what to do if i didn't have the Scholarship..

SUFS empowers parents and students to determine the best education for them. I am fortunate to have this scholarship to help with tutition so that my child obtains a well rounded, quality education.

As a single parent with only one income, making ends meet proves to be a challenge at times. At the same time, I want my daughter to have the best education possible. This scholarship not only allows that possibility, but it allows it in a Christian setting, one in which she is thriving, something I would not be able to provide on my own. Thank you to Step Up for Kids and all who have made that possibility a reality.

Thank you SUFS for all you do. We strive for an excellent education for our children in a familiar environment and to give them the kind of education we wished we had. Thank you.

Step-Up provides an opportunity for low-income families to send their children to private schools without draining money from public schools. It's a win-win situation!

I am disabled and like the option to send my child to a better school than he would normally attend, due to where we live. Great Program!

I am so thankful to SUFS for allowing my son the opportunity to go to a private Christian school. I could have never done it without you as a low income family. A lot of our minority students are there only because of SUFS! We Love You!

The SUFS does not takes away from the public education. It allows us parents to choose the education our kids are to obtain. The program actually saves the public schools thousands in school lunches alone. Lunches would be free to many if they remained at the public schools.

My grandson Alexander goes to Tampa Adventist Academy.without the step up for student scholarship program he would have to go to a public elementary school with the the grade agreed from the FCAT scores are the lowest in the county my grandson deserve better my son work hard seasonally and he pays a portion of his tuition every month this is a great program! My grandson is excelling there and he learns about the Lord everyday. I beg please don't take this away from him. he has been in the program now for over 2 years each year it just allows for the family to make more moneythus not keeping the family in poverty but yet helping raise some out of poverty bring that child up to be a healthy, educated productive member of society. almost 70 percent of Adventist educated children good academic scholarship wall on the other hand in public schools I believe its only 6 to 10 percent get a college scholarship this might not be exact percentage facts but I would like to see the comparison across the board all step up for student school vs public school of percentage of academic scholarships awarded.

The Step Up Scholarship actually helps level the playing field at the public schools by giving the opportunity for low income and minority students to attend a private school. Poor achieving students have the option of attending a school to better meet their needs and this in turn eases some of the burden on the public schools. It's really a win-win for all!

This program is a blessing. My grandson has excelled in the Christian school I put him in. He has some reading issues and with getting this $4880 it has helped even though it does not cover all of it, but I feel he is getting a better chance with me being able to choose what school, and it is a smaller group of kids and they focused on education. I thank god for this program that allows low income families like us to be able to afford getting my grandchild in a Christian school.

SUFS gives my children to the opportunity to receive an education that they deserve. In a private school setting, the class sizes are smaller which allows for more one on one direction from the teachers. Thank you SUFS for all that you have done and are doing.

My family is very thankful that our children receive SUFS. Our 2 oldest have some learning challenges and if placed in a public school in our area they would have been put into an ESE class and left behind. Whereas in a private school they are thriving and are keeping up with the rest of thier peers. Thank You SUFS for giving us the (financial) freedom to chose which school is in the best interest in our children.

My daughter stayed back her first year in public school. It was just to big and so overwhelming for her. She has been in step up for students starting in 2015 7 years and is now on the A/B honor roll. I thank The Lord every day for step up for students. :)

Hi great program. Keep up the good work.We need our kids to b the best and our school is definitely the place for them to be...."Go Stepupforstudents "

It does not take away from public education it gives low income a choice to find a better fit for there children so they stay in school and graduate and that is what its all about .thank you so much sufs

This scholarship is helping me give a child that has ADHD due to his parents drug use a better change. I'm his guardian & I feel that he more one on one attend that he wouldn't get in public school. He is making very good grades & his behavior is getting better. He has never been in public school, because I saw that he had a focus problem & could stay seated for long period of time. This is a God send & I feel that it helps a lot of children to be better citizen in the long run. This program has help me help this child. I work everyday, praise God, & this is worth every dime.

I thank you for SUFS its. Really been a blessing for my daughter to allow her attend to private school. To achieve a better education what a real blessing.Thank

There is a perfectly funded, passing (C), thriving middle school in my community, and the county is trying very hard to "fix" issues within the school itself, however I do not believe it's issues stem from lack of funds, I believe the issues are because of lack of parental involvement. I wanted to make the BEST school CHOICE for my child, and I availed myself of the opportunity the SUFS scholarship provides and sent my daughter to the best academic/social skills rounding school for my child. SUFS did not take funds from my child's zoned school, or send her towards the "jailhouse pipeline", instead it gave my daughter an opportunity to receive a quality education in an environment with adequate parental support, pushing her towards becoming a second generation college graduate. Without SUFS this opportunity would not be available for my child as I live by humble means in order to dedicate time to my children, however through SUFS my daughter has a very bright future!

Step Up For Students is one of the few programs that is right for our communities. Without it many families from all walks of life would have to sacrifice our children's best option for education. The program does not cover all expenses but that is where the families make their own financial sacrifice to keep our children in private schools. This also means more involvement from the families as there is an obligation for the child's success. This program does not reduce the monetary amounts giving to the public school sector it just provides another option for fundamentals in schooling and some form of the scholarship is available to just about any parent. A true Blessing!

This scholarship helped us move our daughter from a public school system with up to 30 kids in a class where our daughter was not living up to her potential due to the teacher having to much on her plate, and not being able to help each student to a private school where our daughter's grades have improved dramatically and she has been on the honor roll every quarter so far. Without the scholarship, she would have had to stay in the public school system and would not have received the attention she needs to understand her studies and get good grades.

Thank you step up for student. Your program allows us less fortuned families to provide the same kind of education. People with money have for our kids. Please continue to do what you're doing because all kids make up the future no just the ones that have money.

Great program!!! It given my son the opportunity to attend a private Catholic school. Thank you very much SUFS. Keep up the good work!!!

We support SUFS. Thanks to SUFS, 2 of our children (3 this coming school year) will be able to attend the school of our choosing and obtain a better education.

Public school funds are not even used for school choice vouchers. It is about having a choice rather than public versus private.

Step Up For Students has been a phenomenal blessing. Our daughter struggled tremendously with her grades in public school and the FCAT. She and our son have been receiving the Step up for Students scholarship for the last three years. While it does not cover all of their tuition, it is a tremendous help in subsidizing their education. Our daughter will be graduating this coming school year. I truly thank Step up for Students for contributing to this by allowing her the opportunity to have smaller classes and the attention she needs to help her focus on her education. Thank you.

My family and I are blessed to have the opportunity to send our child to a private christian school thanks to SUFS. She is an honor student and with that she is always focusing on during her very best. We could not have this without the help of the SUFS scholarship. We thank you ever so much for he blessing that you have bestowed upon our family.

SUFS is the BEST thing that ever happened to our children! We are so grateful our children have this opportunity. We have to make some sacrifices but it is worth it as they are doing so great in their small private school!

I am a relitive caregiver. gor my grandson. this is great program. without it we would not be able to send him to pvt. school were he needs more attention. Thank You

My son is in his 2nd year at Gateway Christian Academy as a 4th grader now.and I really thanks the Lord through SUFS whom has made posible to have my son with a education in both areas secular and christian. Withouth this help we won't be able to do it. And he's been in the honor and principal hall with his straights. A's. Definitely we and other parents have been blessed. Thanks SUFS for your care and good job.

I never dreamed that my son and daughter will ever have a catholic education, now they are in St jude and doing very well. Both went from c grade to A grade in less than a year, thank's step it up. You step up for my family big time.

Our family is very grateful to SUFS because they have given our daughter a choice to attend a school that focuses on achieving academic excellence and to live the Gospel message in the school, the community and the world. Thank you SUFS for giving us a CHOICE of where to send our children to school.

I love step up cause it has helped my oldest son get the attention he needs to pass.. Teachers would use to say he would get lost in the classroom now he is doing alot better with the smaller groups

great program it help my son have opportunity to go to private school,tank you so much Step upFS.

I thank you for SUFS its. Really been a blessing for my son to allow her attend to private school. To achieve a better education what a real blessing.Thank

Thank you SUFS... We are so fortunate to have this scholarship, it has allow us to provide our daughter a Catholic School well rounded quality education.

I know the families that have been able to keep there children here at St. Paul Catholic and even our new families are very blessed with this opportunity that Step Up for Students have given them. Thank you for letting our children have a choice.

Thank you so much SUFS!!!!!! I don't know how I would do it without you. Because of you I can provide my daughter with a better education. It's so much better with smaller classes. Again, thank you so much and please don't stop what you guys are doing. A lot of families are extreamly happy because of you including me.:)

This is a great program!! Without it, it would not be possible for my son to attend the school we have chossen to attend. Thanks Step Up For Students for all your help.

I really appreciate my state having programs like Sufs because of this program my children are able to get a quality education individualized and tailored to there unique learning approach. I have been on this program for a several years and have valued the ability to help pay for my children a good sound education.

Thanks Step Up !! Choices in schools raises the bar in education to compete and raise the standard. I appreciate having a choice versus where my child is zoned to go.

The step up for students scholarship has allowed my three children the ability to be a part of a great community and receive a beautiful education. This scholarship allows my children to keep the continuity of their school! I am so grateful for the opportunity that this scholarship enables me to provide for my children.

Thank God for SUFS. With the scholarship my daughter has been blessed and privileged to attend a Christian private school for years. She has a foundation that will carry her for the rest of her life. Thank you SUFS.

This program has saved the lives of my children. This was the perfect alternative for my children and they have improved tremendously in their academics! Please continue to support!

My child is in k-5 and is now reading, writing in cursive, and reciting bible versus. She is achieving more than I could have hoped for and it is due to the education she is recieving through private schooling. She is one of the future leaders of our country and deserves the education that is available through programs like these. Thank you SUFS

Scholarships do not drain money from public schools. Many studies over many years have all looked at that issue and come to the same conclusion.   This is not public versus private. This is about creating more options so more parents can find better fits for more kids - an outcome that benefits all of us.  

My children have been on a step up for student scholarship the last few years. I would not otherwise be able to afford the amazing education they receive everyday. It gives a children a step up even when us struggling single mothers cannot provide one.

The scholarship program has been a blessing to my daughter. She is in a school where now she is exceeding all expectations. She is a part of a wonderful and positive environment. The step up program made this possible.

This is a great program. I have had 2 children graduate from private school and 2 more to go. Their education would of never been the same without this program.

Thank you sufs The scholarship program has been blessing to my kids

I am a single grandparent raising my grandsons. I am VERY grateful for the Step Up for Students scholarship that allows me to have my boys in a private school of my choice. This is a great program allowing choice.

If young adults/adults can receive Financial Aid for College then children who qualify for SUFS Scholarships should be able to receive that assistance. This assistance should remain because the students do benefit. Don't be a hater because your kid didn't qualify, that is a blessing that you/their family is able to afford a better education for your child. Take other monies away to improve public school but don't take away from this very beneficial assistance.

SUFS has been the biggest blessing to my life, In public school my daughter's were not being challenged enough, because of the blessing that SUFS, has provided to my life my daughter has been able to finally be challenged in school because I was able to go private with this program on my side.

My son has benefited from SUFS and is attending a private Lutheran school. He would have been lost in a large school. He is currently in honors classes.

I would like to express that if this SUFS did not exists I would not be able to send my children to a Catholic HS, and get the proper education for them. We are originally from NJ and FL public schools tend to be way behind in education where my children are in ALPHA and need to continue learning at their fast-pace, and not forced to get stuck in the public HS in my area of Polk county. This scholarship program is a blessing for many! Also, I would like to stress that I am Italian-American, so it isn't just for Hispanics and Blacks, but it is for all low-income families of all races. Thank you SUFS!

I thank God for this great program. My family is happy to have this oportunity. I thank you for SUFS its. Really been a blessing for my daughter to allow her attend to private school. To achieve a better education what a real blessing.Thank

Step up scholarship have giving me a single parent the opportunity not just a better academy education for my son but the opportunity to learn a everyday about the first book the bible his learning his academic skills and spiritual life.

Step up scholarship have giving me a single parent the opportunity not just a better academy education for my son but the opportunity to learn a everyday about the first book the bible his learning his academic skills and spiritual life.

Step up scholarship have giving me a single parent the opportunity not just a better academy education for my son but the opportunity to learn a everyday about the first book the bible his learning his academic skills and spiritual life.

Thank you Step Up For Students! This is a great program, my family feels blessed to have the opportunity to be part of the program!

wow, I've never seen so many comments on a WMNF news story before. Looks like a lot of people support Step Up for Students though. How does the SCLC respond to such support?

SUFS has given my child a educational CHOICE to attend a school that is small in classes size but with a big heart. She is challenge every day academically and loves to be part of this wonderful school. She is happy and I am grateful to SUFS because it would difficult for our family to be able to provide this opportunity to her. Growing up as a minority it means a great deal to me that my daughter and other low income families have the same educational opportunities as other well establish families. Thank you SUFS for giving us a CHOICE and for helping cover most of her Tuition.

SUFS really a blessing for my grandchildren to achieve a better educationt very thankful to SUFS

SUFS really a blessing for my grandchildren to achieve a better educationt very thankful to SUFS

SUFS really a blessing for my grandchildren to achieve a better educationt very thankful to SUFS

Thank God for SUFS, This p program helps us give the education our children deserve and want..

We thank you for this program. Keep it up!!!

Thank you step up for giving my children their opportunity to go to a private school.

I am blessed that SUFS gives my son the right to choose the school that is best for him, a private school with a better education, and a christian base. I am very grateful and I thank God for the Step Up scholarship. My son is very happy to be at Lakeside Christian School.

Thank You SUFS for allowing my family the opportunity to go to a private school. Keep it up!!!

SUFS has been a welcomed addition to my grandson's life. He is able to study and learn in a Christian atmosphere with students and teachers that have a different prospective in life. I thank God for Step Up For Students. The difference is night and day. Go Victory

Thank you for providing families with options when it comes to education. It gives me a piece of mind to know that I can send my children to a school where they are receiving a holistic education to prepare them for the future.

Step up for students have provided a way for my children to be provided a quality education in a private setting with smaller classes and a curriculum to challenge and assist in the developments of their mind's so they will be prepared for college and life after middle and high school. It's definitely been a blessing to myself and the many children I know who have been impacted so positively.

Stepup have made a difference in the life certain of many of the parents and children we have served. They now have the same opportunities as their peers. I definitely believe this is a needed asset to our children of the future.

I have a question for Mr. Matus (re: comment above). Recently another ed writer, Bob Sikes, wrote: "And he also knows that his new bill promises a cash bonanza for the organization which manages the program. One of the most sweeping changes to the program would be the authority for sales taxes to be sent to scholarship organizations instead of the state, which would provide tax credits to retailers that do so. Until now, the program has been largely funded by credits against taxes paid by corporations, including corporate income taxes and insurance premium taxes. No wonder Step Up for Students’ Jon East is gushing over this." My question: Mr. Matus, as you are now gainfully employed by this same organization, I wonder, how can I believe you are truly speaking in the best interests of the children? I know there are many charter schools in FL that received an F. Many of us recognize that the corporate entities and organizations have found a way to profit immensely from this voucher program, often at the expense of our children's education. So, I ask: How am I to believe you know what is best for education ... and my child, in particular?

It is sad that we let kids go to dozens of private schools to learn creationism on the public dime.

This program have help my children get a good chirstian education that i can't pay for out my pocket....

Odessa, why don't you take your kids to church? My tax dollars should not fund your religion.

Yes.. We are very gratefull with Step Up for Students. Are son Andres is doing great at school due to Scholarship, we woun't be able to do do it with out you,

Bonnie C, you refer to charter schools receiving an F, but the tax credit scholarship program doesn't go to charter schools. Please do your homework, as the nun always says. The money goes to private non-charter schools. I think that the testimonials from these parents is proof positive that the program works.

If it were not for the Step Up for Students Program, my seven year old dislexcic daughter would be hating school right now! She is now getting the attention she needs to progress and learn at her own pace. She would not be getting this help if she were in public school. She would have been put in a corner and ignored. I thank God, often, for this program, for my daughter and for me, because I don't know what I would have done if it were not for this program. I am not very poor, but I surely would not have been able to pay for the help that she is getting out of my own pocket. Please, please keep this program going, for my daughter and others like her.

Thanks to SUFS, our children can get out of an education format that just doesn't work for our family! The Public school sector does not work for a child with OCD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Anxiety. Diagnosed with migraines at 7 because of the stress of the environment that public school offers, we were blessed to find SUFS! We used to go to school every morning in tears and with stomach pains every morning at public school drop off. After one week in a private (non-religious for those concerned about church/state) school my child got in the car and said "mommy, this is going to be the best year ever"! As the tears welled up in my eyes, we have not looked back with any regrets on our decision. And, for the record, my husband and I pay taxes just like the rest of the objectors. We just prefer that the monies allocated for our children's education be used in the way that is most beneficial to their growth and development. ** In many instances, this really is not about 'ignoring a struggling public school.' We left a 'B' school - just for the record. ** THANK YOU SUFS!

I am so thankful for step up for student program. My 10 yr. old grandson is has made a big turn around in his academics and outlook on school since I am able to choose the school. It is important to me that step up for students DOES NOT use tax dollars, again thks step up for students!!!!

Well the nerve of anyone to say anything negative about our children future education. This isn't about religion, race or whose tax $ are getting ripped off...this is about EDUCATION!!! We all should have God in our lives and heart at one point in time. This is all about our children being PRIVELEGED to know they have the OPPORTUNITY to ATTEND and LEARN to have a better HONORABLE BRIGHT educated future. I'm very thankful for SUFS which also means that I will continue to encourage friends, family and other parents to read more about SUFS scholarship and apply. So...yes, for those who are implying that the majorities of SUFS recipients are minorities, blacks and Hispanic well HELLO!!!! it's this simple...we're not STUPID to let this pass when we're improving our Humanity through our own children and generations to come. Insensitive, ignorance and selfish individuals who thinks that the color white on your skin and the color green on a $ bill are the only real colors well that's FALSE cuz we all bleed RED. Thank you so much SUFS for being part of my family's life and I know that in the long run I will see both my children in victory with their BA degrees and some. P.S. both my children are honor role students and very happy. Also, they are fully aware of what SUFS scholarship is doing for them and they're grateful for you SUFS.

I have a daughter 10 I want to say thank you a 100 time to Step for student that the best program thank you step for student for think in our children

If it wasn't for SUFS I wouldn't be able to give my kids a good education while learning about our religion. Thanks you very much SUFS..

This is a free country and all opinions matters. If the program uses tax $ then we should be happy because it is going to a very good program. Molding the youth and maximizing their potential to lead this free country. We should be happy that your tax dollars at work where it is mostly needed. I pay full tuition for my kids to go to a private school. They mingle with scholars and I don't see a problem with it. It teaches them a lot of values. I believe this is a great program.

SUFS has helped me out tremendously. I'm a single parent and SUFS has helped me out with my children by providing the scholarship in which I can say has helped my boys attend a Christian Academy and a portion from my income in which I can afford. It has been a blessing!! Thanks SUFS...

I thanks SUFS because with their scholarship I can give my boys a private education and practice our religion. Thank you SUFS.

My family has been blessed with the opportunity of having my son assist a Christian school, where he receives great education and the moral values that we support. Thank you SUFS for your support!

I am guardian for a girl who is now 17 and was abandoned 10 years ago by her biological mother. She had many behavioral issues UNTIL I was able to enroll her in a private behavioral Christian School. I was only able to do that because of SUFS and am VERY happy to report that she is now doing very well both academically & behaviorally. Thank you SUFS - I couldn't have done it without your help.

Private school provides a safe and nurturing environment for my children. THANK YOU SUFS for making this possible!!

My granddaughter lives with her dad. He wants nothing but the best education for his daughter. The Step up for Students scholarship has helped him achieve this. He is a single dad and would have not been able to afford a private school for her. He has seen the difference between a public and private school. We both are grateful for this scholarship!

My family is so grateful to have the SUFS scholarship to help with our children's private school tuition. Without it, we would not be able to afford to put them in such a wonderful school! Thank you SUFS.

This scholarship was an absolute blessing in allowing our us to place our son in a better schooling situation. He is now thriving in an environment that encourages him to learn and be creative. Our family is truly grateful for the SUFS scholarship program.

Step Up For Students definitely is using public tax money to provide a private education for students; it has just been disguised as a ‘donation’. One letter writer mentioned a class size of 30 in the public schools. If the class size amendment is being honored, there should be no classes that size. Anytime tax money does not enter the state’s coffers, other programs must make do with less. Everyone should be able to recognize that as a very basic fact. The money allocated for public schools has declined over the last 4 years, making it more difficult to fund all the programs public schools continue to offer. And don’t forget that many private school students DO receive services from the public schools, especially in areas like speech and hearing, and other ESE services. It would be more beneficial if the parents using SUFS funds were willing to fight for a quality education for their child and all the children in their community in the local public school system. Parents need to realize that there is a political/corporative connection which allows public money to pass into private hands that never actually benefits any child when they choose to use a program such as SUFS. If proposed legislation is passed this year requiring students using vouchers to take the same tests as public school students, these parents will also be able to actually compare their children’s progress to that of students in the public schools. That may be a real eye opener…

through this program we enjoy the opportunity to send our children to better schools that our economic condition does not allow it thanks step up

My daughter has the SUNS scholarship and I have to say it is a blessing. Without this scholarship my daughter wouldn't be able to attend a good school. Where there concern is the children. They do one on one with them and children are loving it. Great education system

Two of my kids have been attending public schools for years and have not really liked them at all, it is not only about class size, they truly tend to care less now that step up for kids allowed my kids to attend a great chruistian school they love it, it is a blessing to our family especially being a single mom. If anything they should be raisingshould befunding

This scholarship for my daughter is a blessing, I am glad to be able to have her in a private christian school with smaller class sizes.

Hi my name is Sarah khorram, my son mitra has been going to the suncoast waldorf shool with the help of the step up for students scholarship award. as a single family household, we are truly grateful.

So, in other words, a few kids getting into a (supposedly) great private school is better than ALL children having a great public school. Boy, this country has become a nation of "I got mine". Maybe it should be the Step "Over" Scholarship Program.

I've been so blessed by the StepUp program. It has helped our family have another option for our son. Allowing us to have this option has enabled him to succeed in school.

My family has been blessed by having Step Up help us send my son to a school that meets our expectations and values that I, as a single mom, would've never been able to do on my own. We chose to apply to the scholarship because we thought our school was a better fit for my son than public school (which is not the same case for every single family in Florida) This scholarship has changed my son's future and I am very greatful to them and to whom supports Step Up.

SUFS has allowed us to send our son to a school that otherwise we would never be able to afford. I am so grateful for the opportunity they have given us to make this choice about his education.

Step up for students has allowed all three of my grandchildren to attend a private christian school . My children and I would not have been able to afford it without SUFS. It is a blessing for low income families. And it does not take money from public school coffers.

Great program. Step up is fair to low income families and an asset to the community by offering school choice opportunies.

First let me say that the SUFS has given my daughter something that can never be measured, a chance for a quality education that will assist her in becoming a valuable and self sufficent member of society. As for the comment aout the public schools, that problem is much deeper than SUFS. The problems in the public schools will not heal as long as people are in denile. "Charity begins at HOME and sreads abroad."

The SUFS program have been such a great opportunity and program for my 3 minority children. I am a single parent and could not afford to give them the selections and experience with their education. My Oldest daughter started out on the program in 6th grade which lead the path for her sisters and brother to have the equivalent choices in education. This program is a great tool to give parents who cannot afford but want to give their child an chance to grow in areas certain public schools do not tap into. I am so thankful for this program.

As a single mother, this program, was a huge blessing for my daughter and I. I am very thankful to God and to every person that supports this program. God bless everyone. My daughter is in a Christian school. And i've been able to see her improvement in her studies.

For the posters who are saying this program hurts public schools is misinformed, it helps the public schools to make them competitive. Competition works. Lets face it, not all government programs work. Why should the government be allowed to monopolize but by running the education system.

SUFS has made and impact with my children, specially with my teenager son who has learn great values from the private school. I have difficult times in the past while he was in public school but since he went to the private school he was completely transformed to a very responsible and kind young men.

Step Up For Students is a wonderful program that assists me in sending my son to the school in which I think he thrives the most. The classes are smaller and more intimate, which allows the teachers to give him the appropriate attention he needs to excel academically. I fully support SUFS because it allows me, a single mother, the opportunity to make the best school choice I can for my child. I appreciate and am very grateful for the program and the equal opportunities it stands for.

Our son has had SUFS since 2012. Without this program we would not be able to afford a catholic school education. We are so grateful for this program. Every parent wants the best education for their child and with SUFS it makes it possible. Thank you Step Up.

I am so thankful for SUFS! One of my children has ADHD which has affected him academically. Being in a private school with smaller class sizes has really benefited him. He loves school and is thriving! My other 2 boys feel the same way. My husband and I work hard to make up the difference needed for tuition, but at least we have that opportunity. Thank you!

The SUFS program have been such a great opportunity and program for my 3 minority children. SUFS has made and impact with my children, specially with my teenager son who has learn great values from the private school. I have difficult times in the past while he was in public school but since he went to the private school he was completely transformed to a very responsible and kind young men. Thanks alot

My son is able to attend a school in which he is striving like never before academically, emotionally and spiritually. I would not be able to afford for him to attend there if it wasn't for SUFS. Thank you and my prayer is that this program continues to grow so that more low income families can benefit and children can get a great opportunity in life through better education and moral principals based on Chritians based schools.

this is an awesome program for children to go where they want my child is very happy with her school choice and would be too expensive for us

I as a single mom, I'm very grateful and glad to be part of this Scholarship in benefit to my son. God bless all who support this. This program os a blessing for us and hopefully continue growing.

I'm a single mom and I'm sure all mother in this planet wants only the best for their children specially education. I'm very grateful to all that help and support this program. May God bless you and continue to strengthen you all. This program helps me a lot we are so blessed and my children knows about it.

Thank God for STEP UP SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.As a single parent my son is blessed to be able to go to ST.James School he is doing very well and the school is great and I Thank God for the help of this program so my son can have a great education.Long Live STEP UP FOR STUDENTS...

Step up is a blessing. With my husband currently out of work my kids schooling has not been affected and the attention they receive is amazing at their private school. Thank you for showing our kids they matter!

Thanks to SUFS, my son is able to get the one-on-one teaching he needs in a small classroom setting. He is now excelling in all subjects and is overcoming his attention issues. With CHOICE, we validate the fact that education is not a "one size fits all" but must meet each childs' needs and challenge them to overcome. Very grateful with SUFS!

Very grateful to Step Up for Students for parents like me who wanted another choice from public school. My daughter loves her school and learning a lot. Most of all, she is in a safe and christian environment.

I am very thankful for this program because it allows me to put my child in good school. Without this program I could not afford to send my child to a private school. I really appreciate Step Up for student and I hope they continue to help other families just like me.

SUFS has allowed me as a single mom to send both of my kids to a great school that they love! Great program, thanks SUFS!

i live in tampa and as everyone knows tpa is a long way from our capital--r there any plans to have a rally in tampa after all WMNF (the best radio station in the world). is in tampa. i am a third generation in tpa. fl.--i love it here and would not live anywhere else but hate what is going on with ricky plead the 5th scott and the rest of the republican party---lets stand up the way are elsewhere

our heartful thanks to this program otherwise it was a dream for us to put our two sons into a private school with our choice-they are doing great and very happy. what more do we want as a parent ? Thanks god.