It’s only fitting: Florida, a trailblazer in expanding school choice, will be among the busiest states during National School Choice Week.
This year’s celebration, which officially begins Sunday, is by far the largest ever, with more than 3,500 events in 50 states, up from 406 last year. Florida has at least 134 events on the schedule.
One of the highlights will be here in Tampa – a panel discussion featuring two nationally recognized education leaders. One is new Education Commissioner Tony Bennett. The other is MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools, the third largest school district in Florida and eighth largest in the country.
The pair will join other panelists representing the charter, magnet, private, virtual and home-schooling sectors. The event is set for Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., at the Boys Preparatory Academy at Franklin Middle Magnet School, one of the state’s first single-gendered public middle schools.
Other speakers include selected students, parents and teachers who will talk about the need to provide all children with more access to educational options. The event is sponsored by the Florida Alliance for Choices in Education, a group of school choice advocates that includes Step Up For Students, the nonprofit that oversees Florida’s tax credit scholarship program and co-hosts this blog.
Organizers are calling this year’s National School Choice Week “the world’s largest celebration of education reform.” The idea behind it is to raise awareness about the value of school choice, the need for more of it and the broad coalition that backs it.
“A quality education can be the ticket to the American dream for children across America,” Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, said in a prepared statement. “We must fight to ensure that every child has the ability to go to a great school.”