Conservative Republican Ron DeSantis and progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum presented voters with starkly different choices on an array of issues, none more distinctively polar than their plans for charter schools.
In short, DeSantis proposed expanding them while Gillum espoused “siphoning them off” as drains on the public school system.
That distinction—rather than the personalities and ideologies involved—may have compelled about 100,000 African-American women, the vast majority registered Democrats, to vote for DeSantis over Gillum on Nov. 6, according to William Mattox, director of the Marshall Center for Educational Options at the James Madison Institute, a Tallahassee-based conservative think tank.
According to a CNN exit poll, of the roughly 650,000 black women who voted in Florida, 18 percent chose DeSantis over Gillum—an unexpected wedge of support by “school-choice moms” that was the difference in the race, concludes Mattox in a Wall Street Journal analysis of Florida’s midterm elections.
“While 18 percent of the black female vote in Florida is equal to less than 2 percent of the total electorate, in an election decided by fewer than [32,463] votes, these 100,000 black women proved decisive,” Mattox writes.
More than 290,000 students are enrolled in the state’s 650 charter schools. In addition, about 108,000 low-income students participate in the Step Up For Students program, which grants tax-credit funded scholarships to attend private schools.
According to Mattox, most Step Up students are minorities whose mothers are registered Democrats.
“Yet, many of these ‘school-choice moms’ vote for gubernatorial candidates committed to protecting their ability to choose where their child goes to school,” he writes.
During the campaign, DeSantis promised to expand corporate tax credits to grow school choice voucher programs and to increase funding for the programs by at least the annual allowable growth rate of 25 percent beginning next year.
A 25 percent increase in the $873 million spent last year in school choice vouchers would mean $218 million more for charter schools—or nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2020.
Read the full story from The Daily Signal
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