Report on Feb 9, 2015 Court Hearing

REPORT ON FEBRUARY 9, 2015 COURT HEARING
ISSUE: STANDING FOR VOUCHER LAWSUIT, McCALL v. SCOTT:
The issue before the court in my lay person’s was precisely this: If the court finds that teachers, school administrators, parents, students and taxpayers have no standing to challenge the legislature’s indirect funding of Florida’s Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship program, who in the state of Florida does?

In Leon County Court yesterday appearing before County Circuit Judge George Reynolds III, the state and intervenors argued that because corporate tax payments are diverted before they enter state tax coffers the money is “exempt” from other regulation or compliance with constitutional restrictions. Their argument was that tax credits issued to corporations that elect to contribute to the FTC program are the same as other contributions to 501 c-3 entities and therefore opening the program up to scrutiny would extend the issue to ALL 501 c-3 contributions.
The judge summarized their argument by stating that “the money never became public” so taxpayers have no standing. The defendants also argued that just because funds are paid into the treasury or are due the treasury it does not follow that all or a specific portion of that money would flow through to public schools. Therefore there was no special injury. In fact, they argued that by sending students to private schools at a lesser cost the state benefitted from the program and school districts had lower costs.
The plaintiffs (the LWV of Florida is joined as a plaintiff) argued, that the state cannot do indirectly what it is constrained from doing directly referring to the FL Supreme Court decision of 2006 in Bush v. Holmes that found Opportunity Scholarships unconstitutional. While it was evident that the judge was eager to argue the merits of the case, the hearing was to establish standing for the plaintiffs and the merits were not relevant at this time. Ron Meyer and John West for the plaintiffs kept following the train of funding through to public schools related to the reduction in students enrolled and diverted through the FTC program. It was a difficult argument to make because funding fluctuates and is an established purview of the legislature.
The judge summarized their case by comparing the issue to a fuel truck with a load of fuel, but the truck was diverted prior to delivery thereby depriving the initial recipient of fuel. Once again the judge showed a desire to get into the merits, but, of course, the standing of the plaintiffs must be established.
One other issue that seemed to give the judge pause was his prior decision of several weeks earlier granting standing to the case represented by the Southern Legal Counsel titled Citizens for Strong Schools v. DOE. The LWV of Florida had contemplated joining as plaintiff, but the judge determined that the timing was too late and no additional interest was served. The third suit wherein, Judge Francis had found no standing was Faase v. Legislature and this case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled. Judge Reynolds will have to reconcile these competing opinions and actions in his final ruling.
Judge Reynolds directed attorneys for both sides to draft a final order favoring their case within ten days for his final review. This is a common approach in a case of this type. There was no indication of how he might decide or a final date given.
The audience was comprised of many interested parties. Teachers, college students, parents, children, league members, P.T. A. representative, Neil Chonin and Jodi Seigel from the Southern Legal Counsel, NAACP, Florida School Boards Assoc., and the list goes on. We will continue to follow and post information on this topic.

Latest on Lawsuits

LAWSUIT STATUS UPDATE SITE

This link below leads to the Leon County Clerk’s High Profile Cases page where both McCall v. Scott and Citizens for Strong Schools v. Florida State Board of Education are listed.

December 31, 2014.  The Faase vs. Scott et al lawsuit was thrown out.  This is the suit based on the logrolling complaint for the SB850 passage of voucher expansions and PLA for students with disabilities.

December 1, 2014: Court Review of Tax Credit Vouchers

Sun-Sentinel, Editorial, November 30, 2014

Court review of school vouchers long overdue  Sun Sentinel

Florida’s courts must review the state’s school voucher program after this year’s massive expansion by the Legislature.

The Florida School Board Association and the Florida Education Association — the teachers union — are among the plaintiffs challenging the legality of the program, which provides vouchers to 69,000 students, most of them in religious schools. A hearing will take place this month on the state’s motion to dismiss.

The lawsuit rests on two points. The Florida Constitution bans the spending of public money “directly or indirectly” on religious schools. Diversion of corporate taxes owed to the state through a nonprofit called Step Up for Students and given to parents as vouchers, the plaintiffs argue, does not get around the constitutional ban.

Also, the Constitution requires that the state provide a “uniform” system of public schools. Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall calls the voucher program a “parallel” system.” Voucher schools don’t have to give the FCAT or any of the other punitive tests that have so angered parents across the state. Voucher schools must give only a national achievement test.

Jon East is a Step Up for Students vice president. He argues that test scores show gains by voucher students equal to students taking the same test in other states, and that studies show the program to be saving the state money. East also questions the timing of the lawsuit, since the Florida Tax Credit program has been operating for more than a decade.

However, the most recent independent assessment confirms there is no way to accurately compare voucher students with Florida public school students. Absent that accountability, parents who praise the program don’t know with certainty if their children are doing better. And the assessment shows that white voucher students from more affluent families do better — just as in public school.

As for the supposed savings, the calculations rely on information supplied by schools that accept vouchers. And while a legislative analysis this year projected a short-term savings, it also projected a longer-term $30 million deficit.

But why file the lawsuit now? The FEA’s McCall says this year’s expansion was a “tipping point.” Indeed.

The program began in 2002-03 with a limit of $50 million, targeting poor students. This year, the limit is $358 million. Because the limit increases by 25 percent each year, the program could spend $904 million by 2018-19, according to a Florida House analysis.

Families of four making roughly $62,000 will be eligible for a voucher. Three federal surveys place the median income for a Florida family of four at roughly $65,000. That is middle class, not poverty or working poor.

Step Up for Students refers to the “enormous educational challenges faced by children who live in poverty.” Why, then, did Step Up for Students Chairman John Kirtley push for such a significant expansion? And if the limit can be $62,000, why not $82,000 or $102,000?

East noted, correctly, that the vouchers will be smaller for families that make more money. Yet with this year’s expansion, the Legislature could move to a full voucher program with no income limits. And Kirtley has the influence to push for it.

Kirtley and his wife gave roughly $524,000 in the last election cycle, almost all of it to Republicans. Kirtley also is chairman of the Florida Federation for Children, which successfully targeted voucher critics with roughly $1.3 million in campaign contributions.

Voucher supporters portray critics as hostile to school choice for minorities. Whatever compelling anecdotes supporters use, however, there is no compelling evidence the program is succeeding. Example: If minorities are benefiting, why do black students score 20 points lower than white students on those tests?

No state has a bigger voucher system. Last year, Florida spent $286 million on just 2.7 percent of all students. Iowa spent $13.5 million on 2.6 percent of its students.

Florida is on the way to spending $1 billion on a program with questionable accountability that could be the start of an attempt to privatize public education.

Legal review of the voucher program is long overdue.
OCTOBER 31 2014: UPDATE ON MC CALL VS. SCOTT VOUCHER LAWSUIT FROM FEA

Some developments to report.

First of all, the Judge assigned to the case is Judge George Reynolds.  He has been on the bench for many years and is a great judge to have assigned to this case.  He is very experienced.

Second, the State Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the case (attached) asserting that none of the Plaintiffs has standing to bring the challenge.  We will be responding with a legal memorandum in opposition to the motion to dismiss.

Finally, a group of voucher parents (fronting for the Institute for Justice and the Bush Foundation) have filed a motion to intervene as Defendants.  We have not opposed their intervention, but do oppose their effort to expand their participation beyond that generally permitted by the Rules of Civil Procedure.  A hearing to consider their motion and the scope of their participation is scheduled for December 5, 2014.

As developments occur in the case, we post pleadings on our website.  Accordingly, you or League members can easily access the pleadings under the “Litigation” link on our website:

OCTOBER 22, 2014 UPDATE ON McCall VS. SCOTT

  1. The Florida Education Association (FEA) filed McCall et al vs. Scott et al on August 28, 2014. The FEA opposes the log rolling method of passing SB 850 the bill. The law expands tax credit vouchers and personalized learning accounts for students with disabilities. The LWV joined the suit as a plaintiff.
    The Goldwater Institute filed suit to preserve personal learning accounts that are included in SB 850.

OCTOBER 22, 2014 LWV PETITION TO JOIN CITIZENS FOR STRONG SCHOOLS LAWSUIT DENIED

  1. The League of Women Voters petition to join the Southern Legal Counsel lawsuit Citizens for Strong Schools was denied by the judge. He stated that it was too late in the case.  An amended complaint to the case was filed on May 30, 2014. It alleges:
    –The State’s education program violates the state constitution.
    –The State is not providing a high quality pre-K program.
    –The State is failing to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities for educational policy making, budgeting, operation and supervision of Florida’s public schools.

OCTOBER 22, 2014 FAASE VS. SCOTT LAWSUIT REFILED

3.  The Faase vs. Rick Scott lawsuit was refiled.  This suit challenges SB850 which was signed into law by Governor Scott in June.  The suit was initially thrown out because the plaintiff was a teacher, not a parent.  Parents have been added.  The suit challenges the way the bill was put together in the last session by a series of maneuvers to find enough different subjects and votes to pass instead of dealing with a single subject.  The bill both expands the Florida Tax Credit scholarships and adds the Parent Learning Accounts for children with disabilities to attend private schools and pay for services.

Legislative Updates

2017 U.S. Congress Educational Choice Bills

HR 610 King.  The bill would abolish the ESEA act and promote vouchers for private school

HR 899  Massie.  Abolish the U.S. Department of Education  (Massie, Amash, Biggs, Chaffetz, Gaetz, Hice, Jones, and Labrador)

2017 Florida Education Bills to Watch

April 18, 2017 Uupdate

Senator Simmons filed an amendment to SB 1552 which is called Best and Brightest and inserted the original HB 5105 language for School Improvement into SB 1552.  We opposed HB 5105.  We would now oppose SB 1552.

The last action on HB 5105 on 4/13 was to delete all and refer to conference committee.  Clearly it has now risen from the dead and become SB 1552.  I don’t see a name change on that bill; it seems to still be Best and Brightest but has language for School Improvement instead.  Maybe more will happen.
The school turn around bill we did support was SB ​2516 by Appropriations.  This bill was inserted into HB 5101 on  April 13.  HB 5101 was laid on the table on April 13.  It was the Just Read! bill.  The Senate now has a Just Read! bill 468 that we support.   ​
As I read it, SB 2516 School Improvement bill was submitted to conference and was in returning messages on April 14th.  Is it still alive?

LWVF Legislative Tracking Bills   This site has LWVF positions on bills.

Feb. 20th  TESTING BILLS

SB 964: Billed provisions merged into SB 926.  Montford, Garcia and Lee, has teeth.  This bill would have a significant impact by reducing the number of state required tests as well as reducing the negative impact on instruction because it:

  • allows SAT/ACT for 10th grade language arts and deletes the FSA 9th grade language arts, civics, algebra II, geometry and U.S. history exams.  The FSA for grades three to eight remain along with Algebra I and biology.
  • allows paper and pencil administration of online tests.
  • eliminates the Florida DOE supervision of teacher evaluations and rules that tie evaluations to student test score results.

Two other bills would only move testing to the end of the school year instead of beginning state wide testing in February.

  • HB 773  Cortes, Donalds, Eagle, Fischer, and Gruthers.  The language of this bill is very similar to the language of the SB926 thus is a companion bill.
  • SB926 Flores and Bradley Bill amended to include much of Montfords’ bill SB 964.  moves testing to the end of the year but allows students expected to be proficient based on proficiency measures to take the state assessment once per quarter during the year.  It authorizes a comparison of SAT and ACT content with the FSA English Language Arts and Mathematics tests at the high school level.

HB 131 Cortes End Mandatory Third Grade Retention.

HB 0251 Hahnfeldt. Sponsor duties relating to charter contracts, funding and property.  Sponsor must honor charter liens etc. before property returns to district.

HB 253 Rep. Duran, D. Miami.  The Bright Futures Scholarship recipients must log 30 hours per year volunteer work.  It  already has a GPA requirement and repayment if grades fall.

HB 303 Rep. Daniels, D. Jacksonville.  The bill will allow religious expression in course work, activities, and personal attire.  School employees must be allowed to participate in religious activities.

SB 360 Stargel. Study Florida 8th Grade Reading NAEP deficit;  HB 0293 Burton. Middle School Study

SB 604, Simmons, increase maximum local district capital outlay millage from 1.5 to 1.7 mills.

SB 376, Simmons, share 1.5 local discretionary capital outlay millage with charters with 75% low income and 25% ESE students.

HB373  Rep. Grant filed a bill that would not allow districts to grant annual contract renewals, as some districts do, for teachers who receive an evaluation of ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’.

HB 0479 Metz. Government Accountability. Requires DOE to notify legislative audit committee of audit violations

SB 0538  Clemons. Charter School applicants must demonstrate that they meet certain needs that the school district does not, or is unable to, meet and share results of innovative methods with district.

SB 0604 Simmons. Education Funding revises amount school board may levy from 1.7 and not more than 1.95 to include fixed capital outlay.

SB 0642  Garcia. May get an exemption from SREF.  HB 0559 Duran Revises calculation for facilities calculation

SB 696 Baxley.  Charter school financial liability.

SB 0796 Bean.  Revise charter school contract and funding.  High Impact Charter designation.  Priority to certain charter schools for grants.  High Impact charter management firms qualify as local education agency LEA (as a school board now is) to receive federal funds and capital outlay.  This applies to a district turn around school plan to turn the school into a charter.  The FDOE must give priority to these High Impact charters in its grant program.  It removes current requirement that charters must have satisfactory achievement in order to receive capital outlay.

SB 1362 Broxson.  Removes requirement to compare charter vs. public school data.  Creates High Impact Charter Network, revises testing requirements. 

SB 1474 Perry.  Teachers who complete an alternate professional development certification program developed by a charter school or charter management organization are not required to take the state teacher certification examination.  The bill adds a mentoring component to professional development.

HB 5101 eliminates the Just Read! legislation.  Creates a supplemental instruction category to be included in FEFP requiring districts to use the money for salary and turnaround strategies in an MOU with collective bargaining agent.

HB 5103 substituted for SB 376 Simmons.  Charter share in local capital outlay capital outlay funding.  Includes amendments by Farmer to insert ‘at the discretion of local school boards’ and regulation of excessive lease/rent as well requires facilities to be returned to a public entity upon dissolution of the school.

HB 5105.  Schools of Hope charters to take over schools scoring below a C for three years.

HB 7101  Charter school system; Title I funds; ability to expand charters  Analysis

2017 Education Issues to Watch

Senator Simmons, Education Appropriations Committee:  teacher bonus expansion, end local effort roll back based on property tax revenue for required local effort, reduce testing, extra hour for lowest 300 schools; intensive reading.  Questions to ask:  How to reduce EOC but maintain test score requirements for teacher evaluations; what is the impact of the extra hour given that lowest performing schools use Title I for extra hour funding?

2017 Education Related Committees

Florida House

  • Education Committee Chair, Michael Beleca and ranking Democrat Shevrin Jones
  • PreK-12  Innovation: Sub Committee Chair, Jack Latvala and ranking Democrat Joseph Abruzzo
  • PreK-12 Quality Sub Committee Chair, Jake Raburn and ranking Democrat Antone Bruce

Florida Senate

Tracking House:  http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/MyHouse/myHouse.aspx

Tracking Senate:  http://www.flsenate.gov/Login/Index/2017

2016 Florida DOE Legislation Summary

2016 Florida Education Bills Passed

HB 0189 Relating to Teachr Certification: Diaz

HB 0249 Culinary Education: Moskowitz

HB 0287 Principal Autonomy Program: Diaz

SB 0672 Educational Options: Gaetz

SB 0719 Education Personnel: Spano

HB 0793 Florida Bright Futures Scholarship: O’Toole

HB 0837: Education Programs for Individuals with Disabilities: Bileca

HB 1365:  Competency Based Education Pilot Program: Rodriquez

HB 7029: Relating to School Choice: Choice and Innovation

2016 Florida Education Bills to Watch

SB 1360  Senator Gaetz.  Alternatives to FSA

Florida graduation requirements.  The FSA English Language Arts and Algebra I End of Course requirements currently can be met by earning a concordant score on the ACT and SAT.  This bill also extends alternative assessments to substitute ACT/ACT Aspire; SAT/PSAT; NMSWT, CLEP, IB, AP and industry certification exam scores to meet FSA or End of Course test requirements in Geometry, Biology,  U.S. History, and Algebra II.

Extending the use of alternative tests, properly validated, is appropriate for students who are currently taking these alternative tests to meet college entrance and college credit requirements.  There may be practical timing issues.  Student grades may be calculated before the relevant test is administered.  IF EOC results are required as part of the course grade, grades could be significantly delayed in order to obtain the alternative test scores.  The impact of the alternatives on schools and students should be evaluated.

Grades 3 -8 students may substitute concordant scores on ACT Aspire to meet FSA requirements.  Grades 9-10 may substitute ACT or ACT Aspire scores.  ACT Aspire is a relatively new examination that was one of the options for the Florida Common Core assessment.  It is not clear what benefit accrues for adding this option to meet the state assessment requirement for these grades.  The use of ACT Aspire would seem to complicate rather than simplify the calculation and validity of student progress, school grades and teacher evaluations. 

HB 1135 Rep Mayfield.  Educational Accountability.

School grades should be reported as incomplete for 2014-15.  School gains formula should be revised to include maintaining a 3, 4, and 5 level as well as growth toward proficiency standards.  The impact may be to raise school grades for high achieving schools.  Schools maintaining a level two score also show a year’s progress but will not be rewarded because they are below proficiency. They are penalized for having students who entered school without meeting readiness levels.  Thus, they must do more to raise achievement often without the resources to do so.

HB 4047 Metz; Costello, Santiago/SB 1284 HukillRevise FEFP funding formula

Eliminates district cost differentials per the Florida Price Level Index that estimates the cost of hiring comparable personnel across districts.  The population cost average is set a 100.  Hillsborough County represents the median cost estimate.  Ten counties, mostly in South Florida, have higher than average personnel costs, and they represent nearly one half of the State’s population.

The impact should be carefully analyzed.  Currently the per student allocation is also adjusted by a sparsity supplement, declining enrollment factor, and property value differences.  The School Fairness Report gives Florida a grade of ‘D’ on funding distribution; the wealthiest districts have $1,000 per student more than the poorest districts.  Yet, students living in poverty cost more to educate.  The state can do more.  It received a ‘C’ on state effort defined as the proportion of education funding of the state’s Gross Domestic Product.  The bill’s sponsors are from Lake, Seminole, Marion and Volusia–not the wealthy districts.

PCB-CIS 16-01 School Choice

This is a rework of prior bills to create the Florida Charter School Institute which is designed to reduce local district charter authorizing authority.  In addition, it creates a high impact charter district and changes charter board requirements.  See post in the blog.

SB 0424 Sobel

The bill increases the background information charter proposers must provide.  It requires monthly financial statements the first year and evidence of financial solvency.  It allows districts to deny applications with history of charter failures.

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0424/

SB 669 by Sprowls and Diaz

CAP credit by examination for students not enrolled in the courses.

Personal Learning Accounts can be used as choice option

School district finances must be released to public

Controlled  open enrollment revised to extend enrollment in any school with available seats within the state.

HB 903 by Jones

Bar the use of state assessments for teacher evaluations and student promotions for two years through 2017.

Require school grades to be based on a system that is “equitable, reliable, timely, rigorous, affordable, and rationally funded”

HB 0829 by Taylor

The purpose of the bill is to expand local control as currently authorized for charter schools to public schools in order to initiate innovation and implement financial efficiencies.  So what is gained in this bill?  It appears that facilities regulations would disappear and public schools would have flexibility in how they spend lottery money.

Will these changes help students?  Maybe not.  It targets class sizes by extending the school level average that charters use to traditional public schools.

HB 140 by Ring.

There are some good changes in this bill.  The 60 day notification of facility location is much better than the previous 15 day.  The requirement for independence of boards from management companies is MUCH better.  I am wondering, however, if this applies to management company subsidiaries as well as their foundations and real estate companies.  Financial and other background checks for proposers were approved by the SBE in rule, but this bill would make them law.
The requirement that school boards automatically approve proposals from high performing charter management companies is really bad.  Too many of Academica and CSUSA schools serve college bound, higher income kids.  These schools tend to be ‘A’ schools and compete with good public schools.  This is the problem in the Palm Beach lawsuit.  Charter proposals should serve an unmet need, not just duplicate a high performing public school.

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/florida-legislature-leaves-building-blocks-for-future-education-proposals/2228331

HB 287  PRINCIPAL AUTONOMY PILOT PROGRAM by Representative Manny Diaz.  Additional bills:  SB 434 Garcia and CS/H 287

Three districts would be eligible in this bill to participate in a pilot principal autonomy program.  In each district, three middle or high schools with ‘D’ or ‘F’ ratings would be selected for a school turn around program.  These schools would run under the same rules as charter schools.  Each selected school would receive about $100,000 to train principals and other educators in leadership roles to participate in a University of Virginia program principal training program.   Principals must be highly rated and can choose their own teachers.  Park Ridge Elementary and Walker Elementary schools currently operate in a similar way in Broward County.

While it appears that the district retains fiscal oversight, the ability of the principal to subcontract to a private management firm is not stated.  Each school’s mission and student population must be specified, but again, how this is to be implemented is not clear.  Would participating schools be able to require students to apply as do magnet schools?  If so, where do currently enrolled students attend schools?  Would participating charter schools be required to adhere to district suspension and dismissal regulations?

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0434

Brandes SB 808:  REDEFINES SCHOOL DISTRICTS

OPPOSE  The bill would redefine school districts and local school boards.  Cities could form their own school districts or combine with contiguous areas and create their own partisan school boards.  The new districts could use their own city or county commissions as school boards. This could be a means for northern Pinellas to separate from southern Pinellas where the notorious ‘Faiing Factories’ are located.

Stargel SB 830High Impact Charter School Networks

OPPOSE appears to be a measure similar to other states’ takeover public school takeover districts.    The relevant section of the bill is “High Impact Charter School Network”.  It targets ‘D’ or ‘F’ public schools.

a.  It eliminates provisions for districts to modify charter contracts for charters with grades of ‘C’ or below.
b.  It allows the State Board of Education to grant charters directly for the new network and bypass the local school board authorization process.  Districts would not have oversight and could not collect current administrative oversight fees.
Gaetz:  SB 669
Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Program for students with disabilities

Clemens SB 252:

Good bill that requires charter schools to fill an unmet need that public schools do not or are unable to meet.

 Benacquisto SB 0886

Senator Benacquisto has filed SB 0886 to establish a teacher transfer process for parents and extend school choice options to CAPE certificates.  The phrase ‘controlled open enrollment’ is deleted.  Districts must create parent choice option for teachers.

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0669/BillText/Filed/PDF

Murray HJR 767

A constitutional amendment that would lead to Florida returning to an elected education commissioner who would be part of the state Cabinet. Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, filed the proposal (HJR 767)

Diaz  HJR 759 Diaz

HJR 759 would change the constitution to allow the Department of Education to establish a statewide system for approving charter schools.  Currently, school districts authorize charter schools and the State Board of Education can over rule school board decisions.

2015 FEDERAL EDUCATION BILLS

SB     US Senator Lamar Alexandar Bill . Every Child Ready for College or Career. The bill reduces testing requirement and returns control to the states.  It increases funding for charter schools.

H.R. 4172  filed by Gibson and Sinema to reduce annual testing requirements

HB 5 The Student Success Act   John Kline.  The bill differs from the Senate version primarily over testing requirements.  It retains the mandate for annual testing.  It was pulled by the House on Feb. 27th.

2015 FLORIDA EDUCATION COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS

Committee weeks:  January 5, January 20, and the first 3 weeks of February.  Session begins March 3rd

Senator John Legg, Chair Education PreK-12 from Pasco County  Committee Members http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/Show/ED/

Senator Don Gaetz, Chair Appropriations sub Committee on Education   Destin, Florida Committee Members  http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/Show/AED/

Representative Erik Fresen Chair Appropriations sub Committee on Education from Miami.  Committee Members  http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Committees/committeesdetail.aspx?CommitteeId=2830

Representative Marlene O’Toole Chair Education Committee from Lady Lake  Lobby Tools Committee Members http://public.lobbytools.com/index.cfm?type=committees&id=1538  House Education Committee Profiles

Representative Manny Diaz, Chair Choice and Innovation Subcommittee; Charlie Stone, Richard Stark (D)

HOUSE COMMITTEES

Education Appropriations.  Budget proposal

Choice and Innovation Subcommittee

Education Committee

FLORIDA EDUCATION BILLS FILED

Early Childhood

HB 11 Pilon. Care of Children. Exempts some organization from licensing; provides some screening

SPB 7006 Legg and HB 7017 O’Toole. Revised terms: family day care to family childcare; add large family child care home; standards limited to supervision, transportation, access, health related requirements, food and nutrition, personnel, records, and standards enforcement. DOE must define and enforce substantial compliance.  Non public schools must comply to standards and be inspected; personnel background checks for arrests and previous employment; cannot transfer ownership to a relative if arrested; must have certificate of compliance with standards; 30 clock hour child care course; first aid and cardio pulmonary resuscitation; home rules training; annual CE of 1 unit; hire a general counsel and inspector general at Early Learning Coalition; best practices in other languages;

PreK instructor must have AA minimum; staff must be 18 years old with high school diploma; notify parents of class I violations; trained in developmentally appropriate practices; online training course on performance  standards for school readiness; check on absences after 2 days;

Pilot project to assess early learning skills using K readiness and FSA

SEE ALSO: Early Learning Coalition Legislation Tracking

National Council of State Legislatures data base of early childcare legislation

U.S. Congress S. 317 provides matching grants to states with preschool standards aligned with curriculum, degreed teachers etc.

Assessment and Accountability

SB 100. Bean. Student Assessment Program. Prohibiting a school district from scheduling more than a specified number of days for assessment.

  • Fl Election Brings More School Choice Backers, potential for New Coalition .  RedefineEd reports that the anti choice legislative coalition lost seats in the legislature. The legislative agenda will focus on technological change and student mastery rather than student seat time.
  • Lawmakers Press to Tighten Rules for Charter Schools.  This November 8, 2014 Sun Sentinel article reports concerns about financial stability of charters and the need for surety bonds.  Other proposals are being drafted including improved financial transparency and where charters can open.  Charter Schools USA CEO is supporting more stringent controls on the financial backing of charters

HB 483 Jones and SB 518 require pre and post assessment and revises kindergarten readiness

SB 616  Legg. Reduce testing time to 5%; adjust weight of achievement gains for teacher evaluations from 50% to 40%; develop district contingency plan for waivers to reporting state assessment results in 2014-15. Suspend 3rd grade retention for one year and allow district policy for retention.

SB 774 Montford requires implementation of FSA delays for technology implementation etc.

HB 875 Diaz (R):  The bill would rank all public schools based on achievement gains and exempt the top 25% from the requirement for certified teachers.

HB 877 assessment and accountability; substitutes for state assessments

HB 1121 Tobia: removes statewide standardized assessments

HB 1177 Dudley: accountability revises required assessments

1450 Bullard: Assessment; 1496 Evers companion bill

HB 7069 Accountability:  O’Toole.  opening and closing of school not earlier than Aug. 10;  high performing school districts, omit ELA in 11th grade and PERT; change in EOC test requirement; no test result reporting requirement in 2014-15. student progression criteria.  See also SB 688 Montford revises opening date 21 days before Labor Day (3rd Monday in August)  Passed and signed into law.

Funding

HB 37 Raschein; SB118 Hays. Voluntary Contributions for Public Education Facilities. Allows business to collect money for school facilities.

HB 319 Costello requires that sales taxes replace property taxes for education.

SB 818 recalculates class size at school average for public schools.

Charter Schools

HB 357 Diaz (R).  The bill would allow 6 districts to convert 3 middle or high schools to charter schools and create a charter school district.  The local funding referendum money would be allocated as well as 90% of individual school allocation. http://myfloridahouse.com/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?PublicationType=Committees&CommitteeId=2855&Session=2015&DocumentType=proposed committee substitute analyses&FileName=pcs0357.KTS.pdf

SB692 Senator Brandes has filed this bill  to make it easier to expand high performing charter schools in the state. See post.

SB 1036 Montford strengthens charter school accountability.  See post

SB1038 Montford requires charters to fill unmet needs and/or be innovative.

SB 1448  Legg.  Compare to HB 7037, HB 1145, SB 1552.

  • Requires district to enroll children to any under enrolled school including charters.
  • It adds disclosure requirements for charter operators, board members, management companies and financial history;
  • Revises regulations for governing boards;
  • Florida Institute for Charter School Innovation at FSU would be created to: advance accountability, quality and innovation; provide technical assistance for charter applicants; connect teachers to charters; conduct research.  This provision appears to be an alternate mechanism for authorizing charters. The Florida Schools Excellence Commission was ruled unconstitutional in 2008. Only districts can authorize charters, but this new approach stops just short of authorizing charters.

SB 1552 Student Choice.  Benacquisto.  Requires independent advisory boards; expands beyond district boundaries; allows double sessions; allows teacher change if out of field; notify parents of cost of instruction; district pilot program; FSU institute; high performing school expansion.

HB 7037 School Choice.  Cortes. Passed House.  Shares district capital outlay local funding with charters; FSU Institute to review charter authorization proposals; charter opening/closing;

HB 1145 Education.

  • adds career programs to choice options
  • adds parental information about average per student funding per school
  • open enrollment for under enrolled schools anywhere in the state
  • appy to transfer student to another teacher
  • may not assign higher percentage of low performing teachers to at risk schools
  • revises adjunct teacher qualifications

Students with Disabilities

SB 1157 Requires districts to keep parent acknowledgment of students form in McKay Scholarship Program.

SB 602 expands the Personal Learning Accounts for students with disabilities to include the autism spectrum.

EDUCATION ISSUES OF INTEREST TO COMMITTEE LEADERS

2014 Legislature Session Passed a Significant School Choice Bill

SB 850 provisions:  This bill became law in June 2014.  Its provisions include:
Expand private school tax credit vouchers for families earning up to 260% above the poverty level.
Encourage collegiate high schools and programs in every district.
Expand career academies.
Provide personal learning scholarship accounts to families with certain special needs students.
Expand supervision of vouchers to other companies.

An article explaining the background for the bill appeared in redefinEd when Governor Scott signed the bill in June 2014.  See the Lawsuits blog page for an update on this legislation.  See also the DOE Technical Assistance Paper for SB850.