The Foundation for Florida’s Future – a conservative education group founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush – released A through F grades for lawmakers Tuesday, with the vast majority of Republicans getting A grades, while many Democrats got Cs, Ds and Fs.
The foundation’s analysis was based on how lawmakers supported or opposed key education issues during the 2019 legislative session, such as bolstering public charter schools run by private entities and creating a new voucher program to allow more kids to attend private schools with public dollars.
So, it would be expected that most Republicans would support the foundation’s agenda, as well as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education initiatives, which included expanded vouchers, new teacher bonuses and enhanced career technical education.
There were some exceptions, such as when House Democrats James Bush III and Kimberly Daniels voted in favor of an expanded voucher program. Bush, representing part of Miami-Dade, and Daniels, representing part of Duval, both got a grade of A+.
In the state Senate analysis by the foundation, the worst grade was a C, for 15 Democrats. But in the state House, 11 Democrats got Ds, and 18 Democrats got Fs. Nine Democrats got Cs.
Both House Speaker Jose Oliva and Senate President Bill Galvano got A+ grades.
The chairs of the House and Senate Education committees also got A+ grades. They are State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., of Miami-Dade, and State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, representing parts of Lake and Orange. Both of the chairs spearheaded the new voucher initiative for Florida, called the Family Empowerment Scholarship program.
State Sen. Dennis Baxley, representing Sumter and parts of Lake and Marion, got an A+, and State Rep. Mike Hill, representing parts of Escambia, got an A in the grading process that focused on education issues.
Since the legislative session ended, Hill has been condemned by Republicans and Democrats alike over remarks including laughing about killing gay people.
And Baxley has made remarks related to abortion that have outraged abortion rights groups.