Aventura, FL; November 27, 2019 — Approximately 450 people – including state legislators, elected local officials and members of the Jewish day school communities of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties – packed Teach Florida’s 3rd Annual Legislative Breakfast at Congregation Beth Torah in Aventura. The breakfast highlighted Teach Florida’s numerous recent legislative victories in securing equitable government funding for families sending their children to Jewish day schools.
Speakers included Florida’s Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez; State Representative Randy Fine (53rd District); Teach Florida’s founder and co-chair, Dr. Allan Jacob; Teach Florida’s executive committee members, Daniel Adler and Steven Jacoby; Teach Florida’s executive director, Mimi Jankovits; and Teach Coalition’s director of state political affairs, Dan Mitzner.
“I want to thank Teach Florida for your advocacy, your commitment and for making sure that individuals understand the importance of school choice,” Nuñez told attendees. “I want you to know that you have partners who are going to work, day in and day out, to resolve the issues that you are facing in your communities.”
Part of the Orthodox Union’s (OU) Teach Coalition, which is at the forefront of the Jewish community’s to secure equitable government funding for day schools and yeshivas, Teach Florida is a leader of this fight in the Sunshine State. Teach Florida advocates specifically for expanded school security funding and state scholarship programs.
Last year’s efforts helped create the new Family Empowerment Scholarship for 18,000 students from low-income and working-class families to receive scholarships so they can attend the nonpublic school of their choice. It is the first income-based scholarship to be paid for from the state budget as opposed to tax credit scholarships, which provides more than 108,000 scholarships to students from low to moderate income homes.
Since 2011, the Teach Florida’s highly effective advocacy has resulted in more than $115 million in state funding for non-public schools, including day schools. This year, Jewish day schools and day school families are benefiting from $26.3 million in scholarship and security funds.
“Every family in (the Jewish day school) community makes amazing sacrifices,” Dr. Jacob said. “Because of our (belief) that every child who wants a Jewish education must receive it, the community has provided, over the course of decades, millions of dollars to build Jewish schools. What we look to the state for is to assist us with the secular part of our educational programming – to provide our children with what they would receive had they gone to public school.”
Seventy-seven percent of all Florida Jewish day school students are represented by Teach Florida member schools. Teach Florida has activated a network of volunteer ambassadors who meet regularly with elected officials and activists, who are the cornerstone of its “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) campaign. In the last election, Teach Florida turned out a record number of voters from the day school community.
“When an elected official sees that we are standing up and that we vote, they listen to us,” Jankovits said. “Our GOTV campaigning wasn’t just Teach Florida sending emails. It was 150 activists- many in this room – who took the opportunity to work with us and ask 10, 20, 30 – even 120 – of their friends, family and spouses to get out and vote.
“We make a difference because we’re part of an amazing community,” Jankovits said. “We’re part of a united community, part of a community that cares – even if we don’t have kids in school anymore, we are still getting out there and making sure our schools are safe and affordable.”