Education legislation

Florida Capitol

Bill to end FTC waiting list clears House hurdle

TALLAHASSEE -- In a bipartisan vote, the House Education Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would eliminate a waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. House PCB EDC 19-01, known as the Family Empowerment Scholarship, would help pay for private school tuition and fees, with unused funds rolling over to the next school year. The scholarship also could cover transportation costs to a public or lab school in the student’s district. The bill passed by a 15-2 vote during a hearing marked occasionally by emotional debate and testimony. All 12 Republicans on the committee voted in favor of...

House files bill that would eliminate FTC waiting list

TALLAHASSEE -- The House Education Committee on Tuesday filed a bill that would eliminate a waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. House PCB EDC 19-01, known as the Family Empowerment Scholarship, would help pay for private school tuition and fees, with unused funds rolling over to the next school year. The scholarship also could cover transportation costs to public or lab school in the student's district. The committee is expected to vote on the bill Thursday. The House bill’s goal is similar to Senate Bill 7070, passed last week by the Senate Education Committee in a 5-3...

Landmark education bill on path for passage this legislative session

A bill that would allow teachers and students to focus on mastery of grade-level skills rather than grades unanimously cleared the Senate Education Committee Tuesday. Filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg), SB 226 would expand an existing “competency-based” pilot program to any school district that wants to participate. The program allows students to earn credits based on mastery of content and skills regardless of how much time they spend in the classroom. A similar bill already has cleared one subcommittee in the House chamber. Pinellas, Palm Beach and Seminole County school districts, as well as the University of Florida’s P.K. Yonge Development Research School,...
Florida Capitol

Bill to eliminate FTC waitlist clears committee hurdle

TALLAHASSEE – In a 5-3 party-line vote, the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would eliminate a waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. The bill, SB 7070, creates the Family Empowerment Scholarship program. It includes other provisions related to a teacher bonus program and funding for social services at public schools. “What we’re doing is trying to find common balance and make sure all students have the best education possible,” said committee chair Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah). Diaz expressed concern that the definition of public education “keeps getting twisted.” He added: “The reason we created public...
tax credit scholarship

Setting the record straight on choice scholarships

As Florida senators get their first look today at a new private school scholarship for economically disadvantaged students, some familiar taunts about academic results for the existing Tax Credit Scholarship have resurfaced. Be wary of rhetorical flourish. Yes, the low-income scholarship students are not required to take the Florida Standard Assessment administered in traditional public schools. But they are required to take state-approved nationally norm-referenced tests whose academic validity is not in dispute. So those who claim “Floridians have no idea if private schools are succeeding,” as one South Florida newspaper wrote recently, are ignoring 10 years of testing data to...

DeSantis’ State of the State address: ‘One size doesn’t fit all’ in education landscape

TALLAHASSEE – In his first State of the State address Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated his pledge to end the waiting lists for parents seeking the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) for lower-income families and the Gardiner Scholarship for students with certain special needs. About 13,000 families are on a waitlist for the FTC Scholarship, and over 1,900 are on the Gardiner waitlist. (The scholarships are managed by non-profits like Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog.) “Education opportunity shouldn’t be limited by parental income or ZIP code,” DeSantis told a joint session of the Legislature. “One way Florida has...

Reviewing the past as a path to the future

Editor’s note: March 2 marked the 20th anniversary of the legislative session in which Florida Gov. Jeb Bush launched a series of K-12 reforms that transformed education throughout the state. (No, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years either.) Beginning today, as the 2019 Florida legislative session is set to open, and continuing for several months, redefinED will examine aspects of Bush’s K-12 education revolution. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It was 20 years ago today When Gov. Jeb Bush taught the ed reform band to play They’ve been going in and out of style But they’re guaranteed to get sued at trial So may I introduce to you The...

A look-ahead to the Florida legislative session

The Florida Legislature kicks off its annual 60-day session Tuesday with a host of education issues at the top of lawmakers’ agendas, including expansion of educational choice options. Here are some issues and bills to watch. Education choice Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to expand educational options and has vowed to end the waiting lists for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and the Gardiner Scholarship, proposing creation of a new state-funded scholarship. Senate leaders have put forth their own plan to end the waitlists. Bill language was filed in the Senate late Friday afternoon with SB 7070 creating a new state-funded scholarship...