podcastED: ‘Multiple choice’ Florida mom grateful for K-12 scholarship, robust education choice laws

On this episode, reimaginED senior writer Lisa Buie talks with Sue Luther of Largo, Florida, a former private school teacher and single parent of two military-dependent sons. Both boys have received state K-12 scholarships over the years.

Her older son, Alexander, 15, was diagnosed at age 2 with severe autism spectrum disorder and currently receives the Family Empowerment Scholarship for students with Unique Abilities. His younger brother, Miles, 13, attends a charter school. The different uses of education choice earn Luther and her kids the title “multiple choice family.”

Luther discusses how she felt after Alexander, at the time a third grader, qualified for what was then the Gardiner Scholarship and how it helped her design a customized plan at home for him and later allowed her to send him to a private school for students with autism.

As a sibling, Miles qualified for what was then an income-based scholarship. Luther used it to pay private school tuition until Miles began attending a charter school, which, though privately run, is publicly funded. Florida law classifies charter schools as public schools.

Luther loved what the private specialty school offered Alexander, but as a single parent, she will not be able to cover the difference between tuition and what the scholarship pays next year. So, she plans to use scholarship for a customized home-based program.

“It helps you have accessibility to so many resources, and it covers so many of the expenses that it takes to homeschool your kid. With technology nowadays, you have to have laptops and computers and cell phones, or tablets of some kind to help them. And it really helps to cover those things so that you feel like you’re still giving your child the best opportunity to learn, just like their peers.”


  • How Luther has used previous scholarship funds to design a learning plan for Alexander
  • How this military family’s frequent moves affected their children’s education over the years
  • How the MyScholarShopProgram allowed Luther to easily make pre-approved online purchases necessary for her son’s education
  • How a charter school was a better fit than a private school for her younger son

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BY Lisa Buie

Lisa Buie is senior reporter for reimaginED. The daughter of a public school superintendent, she spent more than a dozen years as a reporter and bureau chief at the Tampa Bay Times before joining Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, where she served for nearly five years as marketing and communications manager. She lives with her husband and their teenage son, who has benefited from education choice.