NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

A staunch school choice advocate who served at the Department of Education during former President Trump’s tenure in the White House is taking aim at Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee for governor of Florida, over his shift in support for educational policies that she and other students benefited from.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Denisha Merriweather, a Florida native and the director of family engagement for the American Federation for Children, said Crist, a former Republican, must think voters suffer from “amnesia.” She argues that the former Florida governor has forgotten just how passionate residents in the Sunshine State are about school choice, a process that gives parents options to decide which educational opportunities best fit their child’s needs.

Describing her troubled upbringing in the public school system, Merriweather said she attended her public district school from kindergarten until the fifth grade and “failed the third grade twice” because she could not read.

“I was even admitted into a catch-up program in order to help me get caught up to my right grade,” she said. “It wasn’t a good environment for me. I got picked on by other students, and I was in the environment where teachers didn’t seem to really want to help me. Teachers would sigh, literally, when I came to the door and that all changed when I received a scholarship to go to a private school in Jacksonville, Florida, a small private school, and my godmother was the one who found out about the scholarship.”

CHARLIE CRIST’S RUNNING MATE PREVIOUSLY SAID CUBANS ‘MOURN’ FIDEL CASTRO’S DEATH

Denisha Merriweather, school choice activist and founder of Black Minds Matter.

Denisha Merriweather, school choice activist and founder of Black Minds Matter. (Denisha Merriweather)

“I went from making D’s and F’s to making A’s and B’s consistently, even started making straight A’s in high school. I went to this school from sixth to 12th grade on the Florida tax credit scholarship and during that time is when I had the opportunity to meet Gov. Charlie Crist, multiple times actually, because of his support for the scholarship program.”

Merriweather said she “spoke on the stage right alongside of” Crist during an event as a high-schooler when she discussed school choice and how it impacted her life positively.

CHARLIE CRIST SELECTS MIAMI TEACHERS UNION LEADER WHO CRITICIZED BOARD MEETING PARENTS AS FLORIDA RUNNING MATE

“Not too long after that, me and my godmother were invited up to the Capitol in Tallahassee to be in the photo op of him signing the expansion bill, the biggest expansion bill of the scholarship program and tax credit scholarship, into law,” Merriweather recalled. “I was standing right behind him. I was so excited, so happy, and he reached back and gave me the signing pen.”

Denisha Merriweather, center, looks on as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signs into law an expansion of the tax credit scholarship.

Denisha Merriweather, center, looks on as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signs into law an expansion of the tax credit scholarship. (Denisha Merriweather)

Since those days, however, Merriweather’s outlook on Crist’s sincerity and concern for students in the state who may be struggling in district schools has changed immensely.

“When I tell you it was such a slap in the face when he ran, again, in the state of Florida as a Democrat and he said, ‘Oh, they were pulling my arm.… I didn’t really really want to do it, I don’t believe that this program helps you.’ He wanted to defund the program, reduce funding for charter schools in the state. As a teenager, I took it personally and that’s why I got more involved in the school choice fight and the school choice movement.”

RON DESANTIS SUSPENDS SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS FOR ‘INCOMPETENCE, NEGLECT OF DUTY,’ AFTER PARKLAND SHOOTING PROBE

“I wanted to understand the politics behind the matter… why, as a Republican, he supported school choice and came out and signed an expansion bill and invited me – I took it very personally – and then on the flip side, as a Democrat, said he wanted to defund the program,” she added. “It was the wrong decision that he made. At the same time, in Florida, the teachers unions were suing the program, the tax credit scholarship program, so it was a mess. And now that he’s running again as governor, it’s really a slap in the face to the thousands of students who have benefited from this program.”

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist will face off in November against Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist will face off in November against Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Merriweather said she believes Crist may be suffering from “amnesia” and is trying to get elected for the sake of holding a powerful position, not because he wants to represent students in Florida.

“I think he’s trying to get in where he can,” Merriweather said of Crist. “When he ran two election cycles ago, he ran as a Democrat and I think he really forgot that parents and students in Florida want school choice and we’re not going to turn our back on the support that we’ve had for all of these years, for almost a decade now, from governors who have supported choice in the state of Florida,” she said. “What he’s trying to achieve, I really think he thinks that we have amnesia. I’m not sure what he’s trying to get out of it.”

CRIST SLAMS DESANTIS VOTERS AFTER WINNING FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL NOMINATION: ‘I DON’T WANT YOUR VOTE’

“It seems like a race that’s not going to be very fruitful for him considering just how much we love school choice in the state,” she added. “We denied Andrew Gillum. There was a a plethora of Black mom voters during this last cycle who did not support Andrew Gillum because of the unwavering support and necessity that Black women have for their kids to be going to a great school in the state.”

Denisha Merriweather alongside her godmother and family members.

Denisha Merriweather alongside her godmother and family members. (Denisha Merriweather)

Considering him to be a “darn good governor,” Merriweather praised incumbent GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for upholding his campaign promises regarding school choice.

“As soon as he got into office, he didn’t wait until it was his last session, he did it immediately,” she said. “He eliminated the wait list, created a special scholarship account, and then, on top of that, he created an expanded choice program in the state and signed that into law.”

Following her career in D.C. at the Education Department where she worked as an assistant alongside former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Merriweather founded Black Minds Matter in 2020, a self-described national group “dedicated to liberating black minds.”

In a tweet Monday, Merriweather said Crist had “turned his back on students” after signing a measure into law during his tenure as Florida governor to expand school choice.

“That’s me in the picture receiving the signing pen of him expanding a school choice in FL,” she wrote. “He has since turned his back on students. What a shame!”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Over the weekend, Crist, who has represented Florida’s 13th Congressional District in the House since 2017, selected United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats to serve as his running mate in the election.

Crist will face off against DeSantis in the November general election for governor of Florida.

Kyle Morris covers politics for Fox News. On Twitter: @RealKyleMorris.

Source Link:
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/school-choice-advocate-calls-charlie-crist-education-policy-flip-thinks-amnesia

Comments

comments

Advertisement