Florida Chamber Education Update: Week 5
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:
School Choice (HB 7101, Rep. Bob Cortes)
The Florida Chamber supports legislation that empowers all students to succeed by providing options for high-quality education programs. This bill, which passed out of the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on Monday, and subsequently passed out of the House Education Committee on Thursday, removes barriers that inhibit high-performing charter management organizations from replicating their success and expanding. HB 7101 will now head to the House floor. Similar legislation in the form of SB 796, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, was set to be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Monday, but was not considered as the meeting ran out of time.
Fewer, Better Tests (SB 926, Sen. Anitere Flores)
The Florida Chamber continues to support the enhancement of our statewide assessment and accountability systems, which is why we endorse SB 926. This bill cleared the Senate Education Committee on Monday after a compromise between lawmakers was struck. Following the adoption of several amendments, this bill now contains pieces of a few different testing reform proposals. The revised bill now pushes back the state assessment window to the last three weeks of school, requires easy-to-understand, parent-friendly score reports to be utilized, allows school districts to use paper-and-pencil exams instead of computerized tests, repeals the Value-Added Model (VAM) formula used to evaluate teachers, eliminates various End-of-Course (EOC) exams, allows students who pass certain exams (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate) to be exempt from the statewide assessment in those areas, requires the Commissioner of Education to review nationally-recognized college entrance exams to determine alignment to Florida’s standards, and requires the Department of Education to conduct a study on Florida’s statewide assessment achievement levels – including how best to define the levels in order to communicate the meaning of these levels to students, parents and teachers.
Voluntary PreK Education (SB 468, Sen. Kelli Stargel)
Few investments in education programs are more valuable than those that help students to read. The Florida supports SB 468, which was passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Monday, as it provides additional opportunities to assist young students who are struggling readers, offers additional training to teachers, reading coaches and school principals and proposes additional accountability to the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Education Program.
Best & Brightest (SB 1552, Sen. David Simmons)
We support legislation that provides students with high-quality teachers and administrators. That’s why we support this bill, which passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Monday. SB 1552 expands the eligibility criteria for the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program and creates the Florida Best and Brightest Principal Scholarship Program.
Educational Options (SB 1314, Sen. Denise Grimsley)
The Florida Chamber supports SB 1314 because it helps all students succeed by providing options for high-quality education programs. This bill, which passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Monday, revises and strengthens the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. A related bill, SB 902 Gardiner Scholarship Program, sponsored by Sen. David Simmons, which expands access to the Gardiner Scholarship Program, was scheduled to be heard in the same meeting. Due to the committee running out of time, SB 902 was not considered. The House companion bill (HB 15, Rep. Jennifer Sullivan) was passed out of the House Education Committee on Thursday. HB 15 will now head to the House floor.
Digital Learning & Virtual Education (HB 833, Rep. Jennifer Sullivan)
The Florida Chamber will continue to fight for an education system which also creates an atmosphere that allows parents to take control of their child’s academic future. This bill, which was passed out of the House Education Committe on Thursday, removes the prior year in public school 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. HB 833 will now head to the House floor.
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From Students & Parents to Teacher Development, Supporting Reforms Helps Florida’s Future
One of the most common concerns we hear from businesses of all sizes is the need for a qualified workforce and highly-trained talent pool. The Florida Chamber believes a talented workforce is Florida’s best long-term economic development strategy. From early learning to lifelong learning, Florida wins when we match business needs with talent. While the teachers’ union continues to put their interests before Florida’s students, the Florida Chamber will continue to fight for students and champion Florida’s entire education system — especially Florida’s future workforce.
Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda
- Early Learning
At the Florida Chamber, we recognize that education is not a one-size-fits-all solution. We will continue to ensure parents, students and teachers are equipped with the best educational options for success.
- Championing School Choice Options and Competition
Consider this: today’s kindergarten class will be entering the workforce in 2030. Will these students be prepared? Quality early learning opportunities and reading programs can help turn today’s youngest learners into tomorrow’s high-wage earners.
- Empowering Florida’s Best Teachers
To ensure America’s best teachers train and remain in Florida, the Florida Chamber will continue to champion additional professional development and benefit options for Florida’s teachers.
- Investing in Digital and Virtual Education Technology
Creating a talent pool that can meet the needs of businesses means investing in technology initiatives throughout Florida’s educational systems that fuel options and innovations.
The Fight for Free Enterprise Continues
Florida competition is no longer Georgia or California, but Brazil, India and China. And while reforms continue to move Florida in the right direction our fight is far from over. From championing early learning initiatives to supporting a K-12 system that allows students to succeed, Florida wins when we place the needs of our students before the needs of special interests.
A highly-educated workforce drives future private-sector job growth. Be a part of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Business Alliance for Early Learning and help us invest in the future of Florida’s students.
Florida Tops the Nation in Digital Learning
As shoppers log on to their computers today to access the latest in Cyber Monday deals, Florida students will log on to engage in digital learning – completing their latest math lessons, corresponding with virtual educators, viewing lectures, and participating in numerous other educational activities. Florida leads the nation in digital learning and is one of only two states to earn an A in the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s 2014 Digital Learning Report Card.
Digital learning plays an important role in today’s education system by customizing the educational experience to accommodate students’ unique learning styles and allowing educators to enhance traditional classroom learning and prepare students for academic success. Despite the increasing use of computers in the learning process, a recent national study showed that less than 10 percent of 8th graders could identify the credibility of a website or send a proper email. With digital learning the new literacy, how will we keep pace with changing technology and ensure that today’s students have the skills to compete in tomorrow’s workforce?
To learn more about digital learning as the new frontier in education, register to attend the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2016 Education Summit on June 2, in Orlando.