Charter School Campaign

State education officials are being criticized for scheduling a series of 10 Town Hall meetings around the state to push choice for parents in schools that have failed the FCAT or have not done well under the federal No Child Left Behind program.

The state says it’s all about making sure parents know their options.

Thousands of Florida parents are getting letters dated June 30 telling them they have until next Wednesday to decide if they want to move their child from a school that did not meet yearly progress expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind act.

In Florida, there are more than 800 schools that passed the FCAT but did not meet the federal expectations. The Coalition for Community Education says parents have a right to be confused.

Damien Filer with the coalition says, "Almost 90 percent of the schools in Florida, the federal government says are failing schools. I don’t know what people are supposed to make of that."

Parents need to read this letter closely. It says that if they move their child they can’t go back to a public school for another year. State education officials will be traveling the state over the next few days telling parents that they have options.

McKay Jimeson, the Department of Education spokesman, says, "Choice is a valuable component so that children aren’t stuck in failing schools, we can put our children in schools that are going to work for them."

But the tour is being given a nick name by the Florida Teachers Union. The teachers believe the tour and Town Hall meetings are an effort to undermine public schools.

Mark Pudlow of FEA United says, "It’s where they are essentially acting as PR firms for private schools and for the private companies that are using, that are getting taxpayer money. I think that we would all be better off."

While state education officials are out pushing more school choice, the three programs that pay for students to move out of public schools are under investigation for having a lack of accountability.