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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Senate moves ahead with "family charter school" concept



Proponents talk up the "family charter school" proposal as the ultimate in parent involvement in the schools.

"The entire family will be able to learn together," sponsor Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, told the Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee on Tuesday in proposing his measure.

That's particularly important, he suggested, in families where parents don't know English well, or don't understand or feel comfortable in the public school culture. If a school or college sees a need to better serve its families, Simmons said, it could have the option of establishing a charter school that offers both K-12 courses and adult education on the same campus at the same time.

Eliza McFadden of Volunteer USA praised the idea, saying it could lead to enhanced parent engagement in their children's education. That would yield positive benefits for child, parent and school in the long run, she said.

Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, also was bullish on the bill.

"I think this is a great concept," Bullard told Simmons. "I hope the concept can be funded."

Simmons, chairman of the Pre-K-12 Appropriations subcommittee, said schools could get money via existing allocations to the state's adult education system. That did not draw criticism, unlike other proposals that seek to take funding from the public education arena and put it toward choice options — even as schools are reporting decreases in adult education attendance because of rising fees.

The committee unanimously approved the bill, which next heads to the Senate Higher Education Committee. A companion bill has yet to be heard in the House.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 1:30pm]


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