Statement: Florida Leaders Call on GOP Presidential Candidates to Support National School Choice Ahead of Third GOP Debate in Miami

Advocate for the Educational Choice for Children Act to expand education options for parents in all 50 states; empower Florida parents with more resources

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of the third GOP presidential debate in Miami this Wednesday, several Florida leaders, scholarship graduates and Members of Congress are calling on the presidential candidates to support nationwide school choice and advocating for Congress to enact the Educational Choice for Children Act (H.R. 531) that would expand or provide school choice options and scholarships for parents and students in all 50 states.

The Educational Choice for Children Act (ECCA) is a federal tax credit scholarship bill that would generate private donations (not public money) to not-for-profit scholarship funds to help families access elementary and secondary school options and education services for their children. Students could use ECCA scholarships for tuition, homeschool expenses, tutoring to address learning loss, special needs services, on-line learning, or education technology.

For states like Florida, the ECCA would further empower parents, adding resources on top of existing state school choice offerings. For many states that lack school choice, the ECCA would fill a major void by financially enabling parents to provide more education options to their students.  This legislation in Congress has nearly 130 House co-sponsors and more than two dozen Senate co-sponsors.

Several prominent Florida leaders touted Florida’s highly successful school choice offerings and urged passage of the ECCA to further strengthen school choice in the Sunshine State and to build upon Florida’s education model nationwide.

U.S. Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (FL – 27) stated: “When parents have a say in their child’s education, they are better prepared for success. That’s why I continue to support school choice and give Miami parents the opportunity to pursue the best education for their children.”

U.S. Congresswoman Kat Cammack (FL – 3) stated: “The ECCA is the perfect complement to one of House Republicans’ top priorities, the Parents Bill of Rights. After requiring schools to provide transparency for K-12 parents, we must provide a way for parents to choose an alternative to the traditional public-school model that may not fit their values or their children’s needs. The ECCA would accomplish this task by assisting up to two million students in finding better alternatives without spending any federal dollars.”

U.S. Congressman W. Gregory Steube (FL – 17) stated: “Congress must work to empower the American families to make the educational choices that make sense for their children… Looking ahead, we can pass bills like the Educational Choice for Children Act, which will create a federal scholarship tax credit to help encourage investment in scholarship programs to cover expenses related to K through 12 education. These policies will help American families achieve the educational freedom they deserve and set up our children for future success.”

Julio Fuentes, Founder and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce proudly supports the Educational Choice for Children Act.  The ECCA will unleash more purchasing power for Florida families to choose the best education for their children.  More education freedom will help Hispanic-owned businesses and improve the quality of life of every Hispanic in Florida.”

Several former Florida students who benefited from the state’s school choice program and now work for the national school choice advocacy organization, American Federation for Children, also chimed in:

Ashley Elliott, Lakeland, Florida: “I was told that I would be nothing more than the daughter of drug addicts, but because of the Florida Tax Credit scholarship, I became the first in my family to graduate from college. Unfortunately, not every state has a program like Florida’s, and there are students being left behind every day. Education is not a political issue, it’s a people issue, and the people want more options.”

Hera Varmah, Tampa, Florida: “In the absence of the Florida Tax Credit scholarship, my siblings and I would have been trapped within a school system that couldn’t break the cycle of poverty. School choice enabled me to be in an environment with educators and administrators who turned a young girl who believed she was unintelligent into a college graduate and, today, a leader in the school choice movement. By giving back and helping children like me realize their dreams through education, I am making a difference. School choice was a lifeline for me and should be for everyone.”

Denisha Allen, Jacksonville, Florida: “My educational journey paints a dire picture of the disparities in our public school system, but it also illuminates the transformative power of opportunity. I attended my zoned public schools, I failed the third grade not once, but twice. Yet, in the midst of this bleak trajectory, the sixth grade brought a radical shift. A scholarship to a small, faith-based private school—bursting with more diversity than ever—became more than just a lifeline. This pivotal opportunity helped me to become the first in my family to not only graduate high school but to also become the first to graduate from college and graduate school.” 

Nathan Cunneen, Bradenton, Florida:   “Too often, school choice is falsely presented as a ‘public vs private school’ issue. It’s not. As Florida has shown, the pathway to a successful education system for all is though school choice. The freedom to choose between public and private schools ultimately led me to become the first in my family to graduate from college. School choice changed the trajectory of my life for the better, as it has for more than a million Floridian students. Every student deserves the opportunity I had to get the best possible education for their individual needs. Congress needs to act quickly to make that possible.”

Along with these leaders, Invest in Education Coalition (IIEC), a national school choice advocacy organization, is urging the GOP presidential candidates to make “education freedom” for K-12 parents and students a governing priority should one of them become President.  To that end, the IIEC launched advertising campaigns before the first two presidential debates, beginning last August in Milwaukee and subsequently at the Reagan Presidential Library (here and here).  Last week, the Educational Choice for Children Act took center stage in the U.S. House of Representatives when the Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on Education Freedom and Opportunity. The Committee heard from witnesses who shared research and powerful testimony about how educational options changed the course of their lives, created better educational resources for their children, and helped their fellow Americans learn the necessary skills to successfully enter the workforce. Highlights of this hearing are described here.

Leaders are available for media requests.  Please reach out to Cora Mandy at [email protected]


About Invest in Education Coalition

Invest in Education Coalition is a 501(c)(4) organization that advocates at the federal level for legislation that will directly empower K-12 parents throughout the nation to choose the best school or education service for their children. Invest in Education Coalition is the only national organization exclusively dedicated to advancing school choice at the federal level, working to make this goal a reality for children in all 50 states. We believe that K-12 parents should have the power to choose the best educational options for their own children. Simply put, parents should decide where their child’s education dollars are spent. To learn more, please visit For more information on the Educational Choice for Children Act (ECCA), please click here.