Florida students, families praise school choice: ‘Changed the entire trajectory of my life’

Hera Varmah, who benefited from Florida’s state scholarship program, testified Monday that tax credit scholarships allowed her and nine of her 12 siblings the opportunity to attend a private school.

Editor’s note: This article, which features the voices of families and former students who have benefited from education choice, appeared Monday on flvoicenews.com.

Scholarship recipients and their families praised Gov. Ron DeSantis and lawmakers for passing “historic” school choice legislation that will give families more options in their children’s education.

The legislation will expand school choice vouchers to all students in the state, among other school related measures.

During DeSantis’ press conference Monday, one scholarship recipient, Hera Varmah, gave testimony that her family grew up poor, and out of 12 siblings, she received a scholarship with nine of her brothers and sisters.

“The tax credit scholarship allowed them to send us to schools that gave us the best opportunity to learn and grow and succeed,” Varmah said.

Varmah said her family now has four college graduates with a chemical engineer, a mechanical engineer, and one that went on to medical school.

“When people say school choice doesn’t work, I simply show them my family. This is the power of giving a child an education that fits their needs,” Varmah said. “Scholarships like these change the entire trajectory of my life, and of so many families. This is the power of school choice and I’m so happy to be a part of this monumental bill and be a part of the one of the Florida stories.”

A mother of a scholarship recipient, Aimee Uriarte, said Florida’s scholarship programs have been a “true lifesaver” for her two sons.

“Governor, you have this mother’s eternal gratitude for allowing my boy’s future to be as promising in a school like Columbus High School,” Uriarte said.

Rachel Hayon Sabbah, a Fort Lauderdale mother, gave testimony on her daughters, two of which receive scholarships at the Jewish Cooperative School.

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BY Special to NextSteps