House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, now challenging GOP state Sen. Dana Young for her Senate District 18 seat, is attacking her opponent’s record on education policy and funding.
“Dammit Dana, stop,” Cruz lamented at a press conference in front of Plant High School in south Tampa on Tuesday.
Cruz was referring to Young’s track record voting in favor of school choice programs like vouchers and charter schools, which critics say funnel funding away from traditional public schools into corporate hands.
Young responded to Cruz’s comments, arguing school choice programs are effective for children, particularly those who may not live near good schools.
“Bottom line, no one can really say any more what traditional education is, because that rigid thinking does not help the students,” Young said.
“I support public education. I support school choice. And I will continue to support education funding that helps the child succeed, whatever format that is and (whatever) is best for them.”
Young also said choice programs are making public education better.
“There is only one test given to a sampling of students in every state, and that is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Fifteen years ago, Florida students were ranked 38th … Now, Florida is ranked fifth. That means the system we have works for the students.”
Cruz, the House District 62 incumbent, spoke with Lt. Governor nominee Chris King at an event touting the Gillum/King ticket’s education platform that would put $1 billion into education by raising corporate tax rates by 2 percent.
Cruz acknowledged implementing Gillum’s plan might be a tough climb in a Republican-majority Legislature, but said a Gillum win creates two wins for Democrats.
It gives veto power over what many in the party see as damaging education proposals, and it gives Democrats a better shot at having a seat at the table in 2020 when district lines are redrawn.
“Democrats and Republicans in this state are nearly equal,” Cruz said. “Yet Republicans control (a huge) majority of the House.”