Grassroots feminism is helping drive the expansion of school choice.

The school choice movement is founded on the empowerment of teachers and custodial parents. Since most teachers and custodial parents are women and since feminism is about empowering women, the school choice movement is rooted, in part, in feminism.

Civil rights leaders, such as the legendary Florida civil rights leader H.K. Matthews, have for years argued that school choice is an essential component of the modern civil rights movement, but feminist leaders nationally haven’t made a similar connection. Women at the grassroots across the country are fighting for the power to create more diverse learning options for children and to match their children with the learning options that best meet their needs, but unfortunately national feminist leaders seem to be ignoring their struggles. Perhaps their silence is a reflection of race and class differences within the women’s movement. Much of Florida’s school choice movement is being led by low-income women of color.

Seeing these women advocate for their children is inspiring. They hold planning meetings in the evening after working two jobs, ride all night on buses to Tallahassee, march on the capitol, testify in committee meetings and then ride all night home so they don’t miss a second day of work.

These feminists know that finding the right educational fit for their children is a matter of life and death, and they will not be denied.

The school choice movement is one of the most dynamic and growing sectors of modern feminism. That this effort is being lead by local activists with little formal connection to feminist leaders nationally is a reaffirmation that the fuel for democracy and social justice always comes from below.

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BY Doug Tuthill

A lifelong educator and former teacher union president, Tuthill has been president of Step Up For Students since August 2008.


Who are the “national feminist leaders” you refer to? How do you define “feminism”? Who are the low-income women of color fighting for school choice in Florida? I’d love to see some more detail in this very vague post.

You might also think about having one of these wonder women of color speak for herself on your blog. Perhaps you would consider inviting her to diversify your group of distinguished blog hosts.

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