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PRESS RELEASE

April 28, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Florida Department of Education to Celebrate National Charter School Week

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Education (DOE) will be joining charter schools throughout the state to celebrate National Charter School Week from May 1 through 6. As part of this celebration, the DOE will display materials in the State Capitol with the message "Charter Schools are Public Schools" as well as meet with legislators and other decision-makers about the important role charter schools play in public education.

"Offering parents a choice in their child's education ensures that we better meet the diverse needs of our more than 2.7 million students in Florida," said Education Commissioner John L. Winn. "Florida leads the nation in the number of quality education choices to students."

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of charter schools in Florida. Since the state's first 5 charter schools opened in 1996, public charter schools have focused on providing parents with smaller classes, alternative curriculum and increased opportunities for involvement in their children's education. With 334 public charter schools currently operating, and more than 92,000 students participating, Florida has the third highest number of public charter schools in the nation.

Governor Jeb Bush and Florida State Board of Education Board Member T. Willard Fair co-founded the Liberty City Charter School, the first charter school organized in the state of Florida.

"This 10 year anniversary marks the success of charter schools in Florida," said Fair. "Many of these schools serve struggling students who for the first time feel comfortable and confident about learning.

Charter schools are among the fastest growing school choice options in Florida. Charter schools are public schools that are independently designed and operated and committed to improving the academic achievement of every student. Charter schools are largely free to innovate, and are open to all students, regardless of income, gender, race, or religion. Charter schools tend to attract students who struggle academically and cover a spectrum of educational needs from specializing in the performing arts to technical training.

To learn more about charter schools in Florida visit the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice Office website at www.floridaschoolchoice.org.