Recap of Education Discussions in the Florida Legislature

By: Brittney Hunt

The Florida Chamber of Commerce believes a quality education system is the best way to ensure our students can get the skills and training they need to compete in a rapidly changing global economy. That’s why we are fighting hard  to make sure Florida’s entire education system continues to improve. Here’s a recap of this week’s education discussions in the Florida House and Senate:

Fewer, Better Tests (SB 926, Sen. Anitere Flores and HB 773, Rep. Manny Diaz)

These companion bills require the Commissioner of Education to review nationally-recognized college entrance exams to determine alignment to Florida’s standards, provide teachers more time to teach by moving the state assessment window to the last three weeks of school, and require easy-to-understand, parent-friendly score reports to be utilized. Following a flurry of late-filed amendments, SB 926 was temporarily postponed in the Senate Education Committee on Monday, while HB 773 was passed out of the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday.

Virtual Instruction (HB 883, Rep. Jennifer Sullivan)

This legislation, which passed out of the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday, removes the prior year public school enrollment requirements and provides that all K-12 students, including home education and private school students, are eligible for both full-time and part-time virtual instruction options. A workshop on related legislation, SB 692 Student Eligibility for K-12 Virtual Instruction, was held Monday in the Senate Education Committee.

School Choice (SB 796, Sen. Aaron Bean)

This bill, which removes barriers that inhibit high-performing charter management organizations from replicating their success and expanding, was workshopped on Monday in the Senate Education Committee. The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee and House Education Committee have filed similar legislation in the form of two Proposed Committee Bills (HB 7101 K-12 Education and HB 5105 School Improvement). HB 7101 was discussed and passed out of the House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee on Tuesday and HB 5105 was discussed and passed out of the House Education Committee on Thursday.

Educational Options (HB 15, Rep. Jennifer Sullivan)

This bill, which passed out of the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday, expands access to the Gardiner Scholarship Program and strengthens accountability, expands access to the John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program, and revises and strengthens the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Two related bills, SB 1314 Educational Options and SB 902 Gardiner Scholarship Program, were workshopped in the Senate Education Committee on Monday.

Best & Brightest (HB 7069, Rep. Manny Diaz)

This bill, which passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, expands the eligibility criteria for the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program and creates the Florida Best and Brightest Principal Scholarship Program.

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For more information about where the Florida Chamber stands on these and other education-related issues, click here or contact me at bhunt@flchamber.com.