Posted by the American Federation for Children

April 8, 2010 (Washington, D.C.) — The State of Florida is poised to dramatically expand a highly popular private school choice program helping disadvantaged children after a bill to strengthen the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program passed the State House of Representatives today with overwhelming bipartisan support, including a record number of Democratic votes.

The American Federation for Children tonight praised Florida legislators for their courage in boosting state support for the program from $118 million to $140 million per year and called the vote count on the legislation—95-23 with 20 of the 43 Democrats present supporting the bill—a watershed moment for school choice nationwide.

“Across the country, Democratic state legislators are increasingly joining their Republican colleagues to support school choice and to provide low-income children with the educational opportunities that they urgently need and deserve,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “We congratulate our colleagues at Step Up For Students and at the Florida School Choice Fund for their unyielding advocacy on behalf of children who need help the most. Once again, Florida leads the nation in demonstrating that broad consensus can be reached when it comes to implementing education reforms that work.”

The legislation passed the State Senate with bipartisan support on March 24, on the same day that more than 5,000 parents, students, and educators rallied in Tallahassee to support the program. The bill—which also includes new financial and academic accountability provisions—now goes to Florida Governor Charlie Crist for his consideration.

The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program allows corporations to receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits for making donations to approved scholarship funding organizations. Those organizations then provide private school tuition assistance to low-income children in grades K-12. Serving as a model for the nation, the program is serving 27,600  in the 2009-10 school year.

For more information about the Flordia Scholarship Tax Credit Program, please visit www.StepUpForStudents.org, and for more information about the American Federation for Children, please visit www.FederationForChildren.org.

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