Florida Graduation Rates

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More public high school students graduated this year and fewer dropped out of school, according to state statistics just released in Tallahassee.

But the head of the state teacher's union said it's important to get details of just how these statistical totals were added up, because they are being released a week to the day before Gov. Jeb Bush faces Democratic challenger Bill McBride at the polls.

In 2002, nearly 68 percent of Florida's high school seniors - 118,328 - earned their diplomas.

Some 3.2 percent of the students in all four grades of high school - 21,348 students - dropped out of school in the 2001-2002 school year.

The latest graduation rate is up from 64 percent in 2001, 62 percent a year earlier and 60 percent in 1999. The dropout rate, meanwhile, has kept on dropping over the same period.

Bush said the statistics show Florida's schools are improving, and doing so under his leadership.

"This is a politically charged time, and I think this is a very political action right now,” said Florida Education Union President Maureen Dinne.