Education legislation

dual enrollment

Private schools seek clarity on dual enrollment costs

A new Florida law intended to eliminate multiple barriers to private and home school students who want to take dual enrollment classes has instead left potentially hundreds of students shut out of taking such courses because their private schools are asked to foot the bill. Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who wrote the legislation on dual enrollment, wants to mitigate the issue in the upcoming legislative session. Baxley said he will advocate for a separate pooled fund or cost sharing mechanism that could potentially be used to cover the costs of dual enrollment, removing the financial burden for colleges and private schools. At...

Battle continues to play out over education law

Jim Saunders / News Service of Florida TALLAHASSEE --- More than 18 months after legislators passed a controversial education law pushed by then-House Speaker Richard Corcoran, attorneys for the state and 11 county school boards are continuing to battle in court about whether the measure violates the Florida Constitution. Attorneys for the state this week filed a 100-page document at the 1st District Court of Appeal disputing the school boards’ arguments that the measure --- known in the education world by the shorthand “HB 7069” --- is unconstitutional because it intrudes on the decision-making powers of local school districts and creates...

Senate Education Chairman seeks to expand school choice options

The new chairman of the Florida Senate Education Committee said Tuesday he wants to focus on expanding school choice. “It is important to continue to meet the individual needs of every child,” said Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah. “My continued goal is to make sure that all parents have the best options available for their child. A full menu of parental choice options should be looked at.” That menu, according to Diaz, should include expansion of education saving accounts, tax credit scholarships for low-income students, charter schools, magnet schools, online learning and vocational training. He also wants to revisit the issue of...
school security

Charter officials hope lawmakers expand access to Guardian program

Florida charter school officials struggling to comply with the state’s new campus safety mandates are hoping lawmakers can help: Expand access to the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program by requiring all county sheriffs to participate in training armed school personnel. After the Parkland shooting in February, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law legislation increasing security measures at schools. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act requires all public schools to hire a school resource officer (SRO), a sheriff’s deputy or trained employee to carry a gun on campus. However, many charter schools (which receive less in revenue than traditional...
Bullying

Applications open for nation’s first scholarship for bullied students

Florida families can now begin applying for the first scholarship in the nation for students in K-12 grades who are bullied. The Hope Scholarship gives parents of eligible students victimized by bullying the opportunity to choose a participating private school and receive a state-supported scholarship to attend. The program also allows parents to transfer their child to another K-12 public school with available capacity within the school district, or to receive funding to transport the student to a public school in another district. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, who sponsored the bill this spring creating the scholarship, said he wants to gives...

Amendment 8 and the future of school choice

The Florida Supreme Court may have struck down a proposed education amendment to the state’s constitution, but the issue the measure raised can’t be easily dismissed. In a 4-3 decision, the court last week removed from the November ballot Amendment 8, which would have given the state the authority to establish and operate public schools, bypassing local school districts. The four justices affirmed a lower-court ruling that the amendment’s language was misleading because it “fails to inform voters of the chief purpose and effect” of the measure. Although Amendment 8, which was placed on the ballot by Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission,...

Judge blocks education ballot proposal

Lloyd Dunkelberger / News Service of Florida TALLAHASSEE --- A Leon County circuit judge Monday knocked a proposed education constitutional amendment off the November ballot, saying the wording failed to inform voters of its impact on the creation of charter schools. The proposed amendment, placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission, would impose eight-year term limits on school board members and would require the promotion of “civic literacy” in public schools. But the provision that drew a legal challenge from the League of Women Voters of Florida would have allowed the state to operate and control public schools “not established...

Florida’s Principal Autonomy initiative showing signs of success

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 they were best suited to teach, strengthened the school’s leadership team, collaborated with education professionals who have done effective work in school turnaround programs, and reached out to business leaders who have saved failing companies. As a result, the school rose two letter grades to a “B” this year. Brown, who participated in...