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School choice on the school board

In our Florida roundups this week, we neglected to mention a significant and promising development – the election of a pro-school-choice candidate to the board that oversees one of the biggest school districts in Florida and the 22nd-largest in the country.

Jason Fischer, 29, easily won a seat on the Duval County School Board with a platform that included strong support for charter schools and private-school vouchers. His victory is all the more significant because he faced a strong, well-funded challenger in a 125,000-student district that has been more resistant than most to expanded school choice.

“I used the word vouchers. I used the word charter schools. I didn’t shy away from it,” Fischer told redefinED today. “I was bold about who I was and what I wanted to do.”

That message resonated in his conservative district, and Fischer has an opportunity to build on it and reach folks of all political persuasions. As a school choice advocate on a big-city school board, he can help bring a new approach to public education – one that doesn’t get hung up on outdated dividing lines that often obscure what matters most.

“I don’t care if it’s a traditional neighborhood school down the street. I don’t care if it’s a magnet school, or a charter school, or a private school,” Fischer said. “If it works best for the kid, let’s do it.”

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at