Parents, educators, business leaders endorse online public school choice

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The Florida Chapter of the National Coalition for Public School Options (NCPSO), representing thousands of parents and students, was joined today by representatives from Foundation for Florida? Future, The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Virtual School, and education leaders from the House and Senate in support of SB 1620, sponsored by Senator Anitere Flores (R- Miami).

Senate Bill 1620 Highlights
? Allows every student, whether in public school, in private school, or home-educated, to take online classes through any of Florida? certified virtual programs.
? Requires all students, beginning with those entering the 9th grade in 2011-2012, to take at least one online course for graduation.
? Requires the Florida Department of Education to develop an evaluation process for part-time virtual instruction providers.
? Provides more accessible and transparent information to parents looking for virtual learning opportunities for their children.

?lorida has been on the forefront of education innovation that has resulted in measurable student learning gains over the past 15 years,?said Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami). ?his legislation will take us to the next level by offering high quality and cutting edge technology-based curriculum matched to individual? learning needs and not dictated by their zip code.?

For nearly a decade, Florida has led the nation in providing public school student access to online classes; yet, it ranks relatively low compared to other states in the number of students enrolled in full-time public online schools. For example, in the past two years full-time enrollments in online schools in Georgia have grown to 6,000 students, in South Carolina to 4,500 students, while in Florida? growth has remained relatively stagnant. This legislation will remove barriers to this effective, economical, and cutting-edge knowledge delivery option.

? stand with the many parents who are actively involved in our children? education. Florida should do everything it can to put the tools in our hands to make the best choice for our student? individual needs,?said Wendy Howard, NCPSO Vice President and Florida Chapter Chair. ?his bill contains the common sense reforms that parents are crying out for; we look forward to working with the legislature to make this good idea into law.?

Senate Bill 1620 has passed unanimously out of the first committee of reference and is now in the Senate Budget Committee. There are a number of House vehicles for online public school choice, including HB 7197 by Representative Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland).

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.