Educators ask for $250 billion in federal aid, testing, Bush says open schools are economy key, and more
ESSA criticism: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ approval of Florida’s plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act is called a “disappointment” by advocates who wanted the state to test English language-learners in their native languages and to have those students’ results included into the state’s larger accountability system. More than 10 percent of the state’s K-12 students are considered English-learners, and in some parts of the state the percentage is as high as 25 percent. Education Week. Gradebook.
Use of restraints: The number of times restraints have been used on students with special needs by the Hernando County School District has soared from 19 in the 2014-2015 school year to 153 in 2017-2018, according to district records. Cathy Dofka, the head of the district’s Exceptional Student Education department, had planned to cut the use in half two years ago. She blames the lack of qualified special education teachers for the increase. According to the state, Hernando ranks in the middle of Florida’s districts in the use of restraints. Tampa Bay Times.
No special session: There won’t be a special legislative session to reconsider education funding, according to the latest polling results from Department of State officials. Polling doesn’t end until Thursday, but already 52 Republican members of the House have voted against having a special session, while 36 Democrats voted for it. Three-fifths of each chamber must support the request, made by two Democratic representatives, to require a special session. So supporters needed 70 votes in the House, and the most they can now get is 65. Eleven senators have voted yes, and nine have voted no. Associated Press. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida.
H.B. 7069 lawsuit: Ten members of the 1998 Constitution Revision Commission are asking to file a friend of the court brief on behalf of the school districts challenging the constitutionality of the Legislature’s 2017 education law, H.B. 7069. The 10 say they are the framers of the 1998 ballot measure that inserted a clause into the constitution that requires the state to provide a high-quality system of public schools, and they want to convey their intent behind the amendment to the Florida Supreme Court. Among the 10 are former attorney general Bob Butterworth, former Supreme Court justice Gerald Kogan and former speaker of the House Jon Mills. The state is objecting. News Service of Florida.
School taxes: The Orange County Commission approves a request from the school board to place a special school property tax referendum on the Aug. 28 primary ballot. The tax has been approved by voters in 2010 and 2014, and a yes vote in August would keep it in place another four years. School officials estimate the tax would raise $622 million through 2023, and the money would be used for teacher raises, academic programs, the arts and extracurricular activities. Orlando Sentinel. Martin County commissioners approve the school district’s request to put two tax measures on upcoming ballots. A half-mill property tax hike for teacher pay and security goes onto the Aug. 28 ballot, It would raise about $11 million a year for four years. A half-cent sales tax increase for school construction will go to voters Nov. 6. It would raise about $112 million over seven years. TCPalm.