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School choice again focus of PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee

The PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee heard presentations on public school choice options. Appearing before the committee were representatives of Citrus, Osceola, Seminole and Miami-Dade County school boards. The committee also heard from DOE’s Office of School Choice.

Legislators on the committee were informed that traditional public school students fared better than their counterparts who attend privately operated charter schools. Also, the graduation rate of students completing traditional public schools was higher than the graduation percentages of students attending privately operated charter schools.

Chair Massullo (R-Beverly Hills) asked the panel if there were concerns about the current school choice policy. The panel all agreed that charter schools’ unrestricted right to build a school at any location is a serious problem on multiple levels for school districts.

“We don’t build a school where there isn’t a need. Charter schools, on the other hand, build wherever they like, and that makes things very difficult. Sometimes right across the street from a traditional public school,” said Dr. Sylvia Diaz, assistant superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools. She went on to say, “We can absolutely compete with charter schools, as long as there is an even playing field.”

What remains to be seen is whether this panel presentation will sway legislators from passing more so-called “school choice” legislation that further gives charter schools and private schools who accept vouchers an advantage, while making it harder for public schools to operate in Florida.

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