Virtual School Expansion Passes Fla. Senate, Goes To Gov.

TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) — A bill that would require Florida high school students to take some of their courses online has passed in the House which sends the bill next to the Governor’s desk for signing.

In a 27-12 vote, the Senate passed the bill (HB 7197) which expands virtual schools in Florida. The bill mandates starting next year that all high school students take one online course prior to graduation, allows charter schools to offer full-time virtual instruction and expands the number of grades that Florida Virtual School can offer.

It also allows children in kindergarten and first grade to take full-time virtual classes, shifting those dollars away from public schools.

“I wish that the increase to virtual schools would have been more modest,” said Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando.

Some critics of online education have said it weakens the quality of education and removes the ability of brick-and-mortar schools to check on child welfare.

Many Democrats also expressed concern about student access to computers, with the bill favoring students who are more technologically savvy. But bill sponsor Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said it just gives parents more choices.

The estimated fiscal impact of the measure is $6 million, because it could result in the state paying for more students to take virtual classes who previously weren’t able to.

Two Republicans voted against the measure and one Democrat for it. Gov. Rick Scott said earlier this session that he supports this bill, so it is likely to become law.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

  • lmmd

    this is a crock pushed by a bush stooge and it’s detrimental to florida’s students.
    And why was it pushed? why the bushes have millions invested in an online course program…….

  • observerfromupnorth

    Ok this isn’t acceptable for children who have no clue about computers, and we are assuming all families have one, reality check they don’t. Libraries are full of homeless people or people searching for work. So unless the school is going to provide a room full of computers to allow this to happen I see law suits galore when children fail to complete this class because the district didn’t provide access to a computer. It is like telling someone who has never driven you have to drive because the law states so, well who going to provide the car and insurance etc….

    • sherry

      Such an ignorant comment. Try finding more information about the program before you make such a comment.

      • observerfromupnorth

        Just about as ignorant as the person making this one.

  • sherry

    Love the virtue schools. The school system has failed students. We need more options. As long as parents work we will still have schools to send our kids. Put those who have a parent at home why not give them the option.

    • observerfromupnorth

      I agree with the more options for children and parents, but as I said before with the mandate for them to complete an online course the school system would have to supply the computer and the internet for the families that can not afford them, this mandate is not only for the rich. You make a good point.

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