R andy Fine is the only Jewish Republican in Florida’s House of Representatives. There are ten other Jewish representatives in the Florida house, all affiliated with the Democratic Party, but Fine is the only Jewish legislator in the majority caucus.

On Sunday, Fine was honored by the Orthodox Union’s Teach Florida at its first-ever Legislative Breakfast in Hollywood, Florida, for securing $20 million in state programs for Jewish day schools and yeshivos.

Of 37 Jewish schools in the state, at least ten are part of the Teach Florida system, a group that advocates for equitable funding for all children attending Jewish schools — from Reform to chareidi. Thanks to Teach Florida’s advocacy efforts and the help of Fine and his colleagues, 2,800 Jewish students in Florida schools now receive anywhere from $6,400 to $6,900 in tax-credit scholarships.

Daniel Adler, vice chairman of Teach Florida and the treasurer of Katz Hillel Day School of Boca Raton, told Mishpacha that the tax credit has not only helped low-income families pay burdensome tuition bills, but has also allowed schools to lower tuition costs by as much as $1,000 per student. “Our main goal is to deal with a tuition crisis,” Adler said. “We want to stabilize and lower the cost of tuition so that parents can feel dignified, and every school benefits from it.”

Led by co-chairs Dr. Allan Jacob, Steven Jacoby, Adler, and executive director Mimi Jankovits, Teach Florida is now advocating for a universal tax credit scholarship program called Step Up for Students that would extend to all nonpublic school students.

“We want to pay for the education of our kids, investing in the next generation, and this program helps me and my friends to make the right choice in placing our kids in a private school,” Yael Rodriguez, a mom of four who works part-time as personal trainer, told Mishpacha as she walked in to attend the breakfast.

Speaking to some 500 parents, activists, and community leaders in attendance, Fine related how he first decided to run for public office. At the time, he was trying to convince his wife to take their oldest son out of the public school system because they were unhappy with a particular teacher. To that point, his wife had been opposed to enrolling their children in private school, so he told her that he could best reform the public school system from within as a state legislator. But after presenting the election registration papers to his wife, she said she’d changed her mind about sending their son to a private school.

He was about to rip up the registration documents, but then his wife turned to him and asked if his running for the state legislature would mean he’d be out of the house every day. He told her he thought so. “She said, ‘Great!’ grabbed the papers out of my hands, put them into an envelope, and within two hours from the time the idea entered my brain, I was a candidate for the Florida legislature.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 689)