School choice rally held at state Capitol

Published On: Apr 03 2013 04:21:58 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

The charter school movement in Florida is growing.

On Wednesday, 1,200 charter school parents, students and teachers marched to the state Capitol for "school choice day."

They traveled from all across the state to attend the rally.

The students marched past the Florida Department of Education and on to the Capitol to ask lawmakers for more money for charter schools.

What they found at the Capitol were state law and policy makers singing their praises.

"In many ways, I don't see this as 'school choice day.' I see this as 'school children day,' 'school families day,'" Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said.

Gov. Rick Scott is an advocate for charter school expansion. Scott says the competition brought by the more than 500 charters in the state is improving education.

"We know that competition and choice make things better, and the more choice we have, the better our education system is going to be," Scott said.

Charter schools receive state money to education students just like traditional public schools, but they don't get tax dollars for construction. This year that could change.

"We need equitable funding," Wendy Howard said. "We need parents to have a seat at the table through parent empowerment."

The crowd also supports the parent trigger bill. The controversial legislation would make it easier for traditional public schools to become charter schools.

The parent trigger bill died in the Senate late in the 2012 legislative session. This year it's on track to make it to the floor of each house before May.