Charter School Students meet legislators during annual Rally in Tally

Tallahassee, FL – March 13, 2014 – In the midst of week two of the Florida legislative session, hundreds of charter school students, along with school leaders, visited the Capitol for a day of meetings with legislators. On Wednesday, March 12, students and school leaders had one-on-one meetings with more than a dozen state leaders and staff, attended an Education Committee meeting, met with representatives from the Florida Department of Education, and met Lt. Governor Lopez Cantera.

Participating schools included: Bay Haven Charter Academy (Bay County), Marco Island Charter Middle (Collier County), Mater Academy Charter High School (Miami Dade), Somerset Academy Charter High School (Broward County), City of Hialeah Educational Academy (Miami Dade), Mater East Academy (Miami Dade), Sports Leadership and Management Charter Middle / High (Miami Dade), Hope Charter School/Legacy Charter High (Orange County), and Imagine Land O’Lakes (Pasco County)

“There is no better way to convey the academic success charter schools have had and the need they are meeting in communities throughout the state than to have our own students tell the story,” explains Robert Haag, President of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter School (FCPCS) – the statewide charter school association that coordinated the day’s visit. During their visit, students shared their charter school success stories with legislators, and urge them to continue to generously support funding for all K-12 programs.

This legislative session, Florida’s public charter schools aim to secure funding to support facilities, Start Up Incentives to school districts to encourage them become more collaborative by including charter schools in discussions of policies that affect charter schools, and incentives to districts and/or charter school operators to open schools in districts where no charter schools are currently established. FCPCS also supports accountability measure to ensure the quality and effectiveness of charter schools operations, and the establishment of charter schools in areas of greatest need.

For more than seventeen years, public charter schools have been an integral part of Florida’s K-12 public education system. Analysis of student achievement released by the Florida Department of Education shows that Florida’s charter schools are performing academically, and that the investment state leaders have made in quality public charter schools is paying off. In many cases, public charter schools are helping close the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students. Moreover, the growth of enrollment at charter schools -- which now exceeds 230,000 students (an estimated 15% of the overall K-12 public student population in the state), is a clear indication that charter schools are an education option families support, and seek.

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