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Education politics

House, Senate far apart on school funding

Jim Saunders / News Service of Florida TALLAHASSEE --- Florida House and Senate leaders will go into budget negotiations hundreds of millions of dollars apart on spending for the state’s public schools. House Republicans on Wednesday released an initial proposal that calls for a $579.3 million increase next year in the key part of the budget for public schools, a 2.75 percent bump per student. That came a day after Senate leaders proposed a $1.1 billion increase, or 4.71 percent per student. Funding for what is known as the Florida Education Finance Program, or FEFP, is always one of the most closely...
family empowerment scholarship

Senate bill to end FTC wait list moves forward

TALLAHASSEE -- In a 5-3 party-line vote, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would eliminate the waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. The bill, SB7070, creates the Family Empowerment Scholarship program, which would  allow about 15,000 low-income students to attend the private school of their choice in 2019-20. Nearly 13,000 students are on the waiting list for Florida Tax Credit scholarships. The legislation, which previously passed the Senate Education Committee on an identical party-line vote, includes other provisions related to a teacher bonus program and funding for social services...

Bills expanding Florida’s charter schools on the move in House committee

TALLAHASSEE – The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee on Tuesday passed two substantial bills impacting charter schools in Florida. HB 1197 would allow state universities and Florida College System (FCS) institutions to fully sponsor charter schools serving all grade levels, repealing current limitations capping such schools at grade 8. Supporters cited educational capacity, workforce qualifications, and career education opportunities as needs that may extend beyond a school district’s boundaries, creating the necessity for HB 1197. The bill would require the Department of Education to collaborate with charter school sponsors and operators to develop an evaluation framework and report results annually in their application...

Montana school choice case appealed to U.S. Supreme Court

Montana parents appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court last week, asking the court to overturn a ruling that found tax-credit scholarships unconstitutional in the state. The Montana Supreme Court had ruled 5-2 in December that the state’s tax credit scholarship program violated the state’s constitutional bans aid to sectarian schools. The ruling allowed the state to create a new tax credit scholarship program for students to attend only non-religious private schools. “It is a bedrock constitutional principle that the government cannot discriminate against religion,” said Institute for Justice attorney Erica Smith in a press release. “Yet for the past 24 years,...

revisitED: Customization can lead to eliminating school grades and better accountability

The state of Florida’s latest annual report on the performance of students receiving tax credit scholarships contained these facts: 22.9 percent of scholarship students came from public schools rated “D” or “F” in the prior school year, while 30.3 percent of came from public schools rated “A” or “B.” School grades are intended to inform parents about the effectiveness of district and charter schools, but tax credit scholarship parents aren’t impressed. Apparently, most of these low-income and working-class parents are using other means to determine which schools will work best for their children. I was skeptical when Florida first started grading...

How the Florida education revolution began

Editor’s note: March 2 marked the 20th anniversary of the legislative session in which Florida Gov. Jeb Bush launched a number of K-12 reforms that transformed education throughout the state. With the start of the 2019 legislative session earlier this month, redefinED embarked upon a series of articles that examine aspects of Bush’s K-12 education revolution and how it continues to reverberate. Today’s piece lays the historical foundation that made the landmark changes possible.     Much of the foundation for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s K-12 improvement initiatives was built by Democrats such as Florida governors Bob Graham, Lawton Chiles and Buddy...
school choice

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...