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Education legislation

A little better all the time, Part 2

Editor’s note: Today, we offer Part 2 of a two-part post from redefinED executive editor Matt Ladner. You can read Part 1 here. Ladner’s commentary ends our series commemorating the 20th anniversary of the K-12 reforms launched by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, collectively known as the A+ accountability plan. One challenge to several of the A+ reforms is that they lack a natural constituency, which makes them politically vulnerable. The photo above is a good example of a natural constituency. Not all policies, even worthy ones, necessarily animate people to appear at a state capitol in vast throngs. Bill de Blasio’s...

Appeals court rejects challenge to education law

Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida TALLAHASSEE --- Rejecting arguments of numerous school boards across the state, an appeals court Thursday upheld the constitutionality of a controversial 2017 law that sought to bolster charter schools. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal backed a decision by a Leon County circuit judge, who turned down arguments that the mammoth education law improperly infringed on the rights of school boards to operate their districts. The law, known in education circles by the shorthand HB 7069, was a priority of then-House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who now serves...

Don’t know much about school spending

Don’t know much about history Don’t know much biology Don’t know much about science books Don’t know much about the French I took “Don’t Know Much” by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow Education Next recently released its annual poll full of interesting information, including this graphic that shows Americans consistently underestimate the amount of money spent on public education in their state. The upshot The public is providing almost twice as much money per pupil as the average respondent estimates. Why this is important Results like these don’t mean we should spend less on public education. In fact, there are plenty of people who,...

Education savings accounts: their evolution in Arizona

Editor’s note: This post is the second installment of a short series on the origins of K-12 education savings account programs. In the first installment, Dan Lips, a visiting fellow with the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and the originator of the concept which eventually became the AZESA program, described the turn of the millennium school choice debates that shaped the development of his original ESA proposal. Below, redefinED executive editor Matthew Ladner describes the circumstances that led to the adoption of the first ESA program in Arizona. “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One...

Florida’s Principal Autonomy initiative showing signs of success

Editor’s note: Throughout August, redefinED is revisiting stories that shine a light on extraordinary educators. Today’s post, first published in August 2018, features two strong school leaders, one in Palm Beach and one in St. Petersburg, who saw critical needs at their schools and took the necessary steps to address them.   When Robin Brown took the helm as principal of West Riviera Elementary School in Palm Beach in 2017, the school was struggling. It had been designated a “D” by the Florida Department of Education. Realizing the situation, Brown made critical changes. She assigned 28 teachers to the grade level she felt...

Why one Democratic state lawmaker voted for educational choice

At a Town Hall in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, State Rep. Wengay Newton kept it real. More than a dozen advocates and constituents who live in or attend schools in his St. Petersburg district spent their evening hearing from one of the six Democrats who voted this spring in support of SB 7070, a bill creating the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES). The bill is now law and provides state-funded scholarships to low-income and working-class families who want their children to attend a K-12 private school. Many families who are being awarded the new scholarship are from his district. Statewide,...

Education savings accounts: a vehicle for parental choice

Executive editor’s note: This is the first in a short series of articles documenting the origins of Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program. AZESA was the first education savings account (ESA) program, and it seemed like a good idea to tell this story before any of us involved got hit by a passenger bus or suffered some other sort of calamity. ESAs started in Arizona, and Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee have followed suit, while bills are being filed in dozens of other states. In this post, Dan Lips, a visiting fellow with the Foundation for Research on Equal...

An education choice advocate reflects on benefits of A+ plan

Editor’s note: redefinED continues to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the K-12 reforms launched by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, collectively known as the A+ accountability plan, with this post from Step Up For Students' executive director for advocacy and civic engagement. In her first-person piece, she recounts how she became aware of the legislation that transformed education throughout the state and how it impacted her family. Back in 1999, when Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature decided to put the A+ Plan into effect -- thereby increasing accountability for schools, rewarding them for improved outcomes and creating options for...