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Press Release

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Florida Observes National Charter Schools Week
~ Celebration highlights unique contributions of charter schools to public education ~

TALLAHASSEE —Charter schools throughout Florida today began celebrating National Charter Schools Week. This year’s theme is “Growing Excellence,” signifying the positive growth charter schools have experienced across the nation since they were first established 16 years ago. The theme also highlights the excellent educational opportunities that charter schools offer and their unique capabilities to assist a wide variety of students.

“Florida has one of the most diverse populations in the nation and with that diversity comes many different types of educational needs,” said State Board of Education Chairman T. Willard Fair. “Charter schools are uniquely capable of fulfilling those needs and are able to reach students who might otherwise fall through the cracks.”

As part of the celebration, students from three charter schools will visit the Department of Education in Tallahassee on Wednesday, May 7, and conduct performances that showcase their talent and creativity. Additionally, Commissioner Smith will visit Mater Academy East Charter School on Tuesday, May 6, in honor of the week.

“Charter schools are an important part of Florida’s education system and provide valuable educational opportunities to the students they serve,” said Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith. “As part of the fabric of our public school system, charter schools empower parents to choose the type of education that best fits the needs of their child.”

Charter schools are public schools that are independently designed and operated and are among the fastest growing school choice options in Florida. Since 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 358 public charter schools currently operating, and more than 100,000 students participating, Florida has the third largest number of public charter schools in the nation.

“As a parent of a charter school student, I have seen first-hand the positive impact that these schools can have on a child,” said Nellie King, parent of a student at Chautauqa Charter School. “Some students require a unique learning environment to thrive and these schools give parents the flexibility they need to make the right choices for their children.”

To learn more about charter schools in Florida, visit the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice Office website at www.floridaschoolchoice.org. To learn more about National Charter Schools Week, visit www.publiccharters.org.