Charlie Crist: I was wrong about expanding private school vouchers

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a longtime champion of private school vouchers and tax credit scholarships, now says he was wrong about expanding parental school choice, according to a story in Sunday’s Tampa Tribune.

Charlie Crist
Charlie Crist

Crist lists “a major expansion of private school tuition vouchers” among a handful of positions in education and beyond that he was wrong about. It’s not clear from the story, though, which voucher program or programs he was referring to. In K-12, Florida has vouchers for disabled students and a tax-credit scholarship program for low-income students. The state also has a voucher program for prekindergarten and several college scholarship programs that allow public funding to flow to private schools.

The story also does not offer any detail about why Crist’s views may have changed. Crist is a longtime Republican who became an independent two years ago in an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate. He is widely expected to run for governor again as a Democrat.

In 2010, Crist signed legislation, supported by a broad bipartisan coalition, that increased the amount corporations could contribute to the state’s tax credit scholarship program. (That program is administered by Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.) At a 2010 rally in support of the bill, Crist spoke before more than 5,000 parents and children. “I’m proud to tell you that regardless of party, Florida stands for you,” he told them. “There’s no partisan politics about kids. It’s all about doing what’s right, first and foremost.”

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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

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