Opportunity Scholars in Florida Shed Insight Into What Issues Voters are Bringing to the Polls

by Martha Beltz   •  

With today’s primary, Florida’s voters are bringing their concerns to the polls. What are these concerns on the minds of Floridians? The Opportunity Index provides insight into what some of the big issue items are for Florida’s residents. Ranking 37th in the country, Florida earns a 44.6 out of 100 on the Opportunity Index.  The weakest point in Florida’s scorecard is in the economy sector, scoring a 3 out of 10. With an unemployment rate of 11%, nearly 2% higher than the national average, we can expect voters to be bringing their job concerns to the polls.

Affordability and the housing crisis are also a big concern, with a low median household income in addition to a low score in affordable housing. “The disparity of wealth in Miami, where I reside, is glaringly obvious,” says Walker Moseley, an Opportunity Scholar. “Florida has one of the highest rates of foreclosures in the nation.”

Florida also showed room for improvement in its community score. Earning a 4 out of 10, Florida faltered in many aspects within this dimension. A topic that is likely to be brought to the polls is violent crime rate. Florida has a crime rate of 612.5 per 100,000 population, much higher than the notational average of 429.4. Another big issue within the community score is the percentage of teenagers not in school and not working, at 9.41%.

When asked what a big concern for her community is during this election, Opportunity Scholar Rolanda Schand replies, “definitely education”. She sees barriers to education, every day, and works with her student government to implement alternate ways of funding higher education.

Walker agrees, stating, “Education is huge as well.”  Walker currently works at Miami Jackson Senior High and notes that “the education the high school students are receiving as a whole is sub par.  The low performing high schools, or drop out factories, have so many different issues they need to address and not an adequate amount of resources to do so. “

While the Opportunity Index reveals a high preschool enrollment rate and high rate of state higher education subsidy, Florida falls short in on-time high school graduation rate and percentage of residents holding a bachelor’s degree.  This is likely tied back to the lack of jobs that keeps Florida’s college graduates working in-state. Trends show other pressing concerns for Florida’s residents during this election are the environment and immigration. 

While the polls close tonight, we are sure to see these big-ticket items reflected in the results, and on-going pressure from Florida’s to address the concerns of their communities voters as this election continues. 

Martha Beltz

Opportunity Nation

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