Schools Reflect Our Values

directory-281476_1280Poverty, race, and educational opportunity are intertwined. In a report by the National Educational Policy Center, housing is added to the mix.  The authors explain the interaction between where we live and the opportunities available to us.

Divided communities have greater inequities in access to quality education and employment.  Perceptions of the quality of schools based on the neighborhood income level become the reality.  The more divided our communities, the greater the problems become.  What can be done to reduce the inequities?

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Congress Passes New Federal ESEA Bill

legislation1We posted several analyses of the updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  Current legislation, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is on its way to the President’s desk.   No Child Left Behind Act and Race to the Top are gone.  What remains are annual testing requirements and support for charter schools.  Responsibility for most education accountability reverts to the states.  Thus, each state can determine how test scores are used for teacher evaluation, school grades and the Common Core.

States are required to identify schools with under performing students and help fix them.  What this means is unclear.  For a good analysis, see Education Week.  Many provisions are subject to different interpretations.  One thing is clear, citizens need to turn to their state legislatures  to make reasonable, valid decisions about how test scores are used.  Continued policies that force districts and teachers to focus instruction on ‘passing the test’ can be changed, if the voters insist.


False Promises Bring Big Profits?

money-40603_1280The numbers are ringing alarm bells.  I discovered something about charter failure rates and the number of years they were open.  The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch has compiled a state by state list of charter school failures.    Florida has the second largest number of failures (308) next to Arizona.

The cost of failure is high.  CMD reports that the federal government has spent 3.3 billion dollars on charter school development.  The funding is sent to the states to distribute.  Federal auditors estimate that $200 million has been lost due to fraud and waste in the past decade.   In 2011-12, Michigan had 25 charters that were awarded $3.7 million and never opened.  Florida’s case is more dramatic.

In Florida, charters may receive up to $350 thousand before they open.  In 2011, the Florida’s legislature created a new fund with an additional $30 million to expand charters.  The Department of Education used the money to create a partnership with a venture capital group headed by a former KIPP school executive.  There is a lot of money in starting charter schools.

What did the tally of the number of years charters were opened before they closed reveal?  First, a third of the closed charters appear to have never opened!  I knew this happened, but I did not realize how big the problem was.  An additional thirty four schools closed after one year.  Only one-third of these schools remained open for three or more years.  We do not know how much start up money these schools received.  The Florida Department of Education did not keep track.  In a recent post, we reported that in a four year period, over $67 million in federal start up costs in Florida could not be accounted for.  Strange business practice for a state that touts its strong accountability process.

A recent State Board of Education rule now allows districts to do background checks on groups who propose new charters.  It is easy to assume the independent operators are more likely to be inexperienced managers with inadequate financial resources.  They do account for many school failures.  The SBE rule, however, may not go far enough.  Two of the largest charter management firms, Academica and Imagine, had many schools that failed to open.  Given that these firms have substantial resources, one wonders why these schools closed before they opened.  Did these companies also receive large start up funds?  We do not know.  Will some agency in charge of charter accountability take notice?  Who is in charge?

FSA Score Results: What Parent’s Should Know

dmbtestI have reviewed the FSA validity study and the response by the Florida Department of Education.  It boils down to a few key issues:

  1. 1.  Students should be held harmless from promotion, graduation and placement in remediation courses.
  2. 2.  Scores based on FSA standards should be delayed until independent reviews of the alignment of test questions with state standards is completed.
  3. 3.  If close alignment with standards is not meaningful (as with the Utah test questions), then less expensive, nationally normed tests should be considered.
  4.  4.  Performance standards should not be set until the alignment of item complexity with performance standards is resolved.  Questions that are too complex or too simple for a given performance level could skew passing standards and the interpretation of what students should know and be able to do at each level.  School grades and student growth measures used in teacher evaluations could be negatively impacted.  The interpretation of performance levels would change from year to year due to variations in questions in different test forms in the same year and across years.

Difference Between U. S. House and Senate Education Bills

congress-74032_1280The Senate version of the education bill (See: US Senator Lamar Alexandar Bill ) and the House version differ mostly on the requirements for achievement testing.

The House version is a reintroduction of last year’s Student Success Act.  Both version emphasize returning control to the states.

A summary of the House version follows.  We will track the bills.  Check Legislative Updates on the rotating banner for the blog.  It is the photo of the green chalkboard.

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Private School Regulations by State for School Choice

by Terry Gillam

This report is a summary  of private school choice program regulations by state.  The data were drawn from the U.S. Department of Education State Regulation of Private Schools report.  There is also an interactive map on the DOE site.  The checklist of descriptors range from how schools are licensed, funded, and managed to teacher certification and professional development.  The checklist was published by the Friedman Foundation, a strong advocate for school choice.  It is a comprehensive source for data needed to analyze private school voucher program characteristics.

Legislative Updates


HB 1: Hope Scholarship Program: Donalds. This gives vouchers to students claiming bullying or other abuse. OPPOSE
HB 161: Mandatory Retention. Cortes. Removes third grade retention due to FSA scores. SUPPORT
SB 294: Mandatory retention: Rodriquez. Eliminates requirement to retain third graders due to FSA scores.
SB 188: Charter school transportation. Steube. OPPOSE
SB 194: Limitation of School Board Terms. Steube. OPPOSE
SB 216: Schools of Hope Revise Enrollment Requirement. Book. SUPPORT?
SB 436: Assess Facility Needs for Emergency. Galvano. NEUTRAL
SB 564: John McKay Scholarship. Young. It is a voucher program, but the League has not taken a formal position on it regarding the district reevaluation of IEP status for these children with disabilities. NO POSITION
SB 668: Year round School for lowest 300 schools. Brandes This is a medium priority issue that we support for all schools, not only low performing schools. It should be a district/community option.

• Vouchers: 4 No Aid Martinez; Funding Services for private schools 45 Donalds; 59 Johnson
• Students with Disabilities definitions Voucher expansion: 15 Gamez; 30 Martinez
• Expand Charters: 71 Donalds Multiple school authorizers, 93 Martinez Create charter districts
• Local Control: 32, 33, 43 term limits, prohibit school board salaries and require appointed superintendent Donalds
• School Operations: 10 Gaetz Civics, 90 Class Size at school averages Levesque, Martinez; 82 Opening Day of school before Labor Day Heuchen, 89 Education Purpose workforce Washington

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.


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:

Tracking Senate:

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.

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.

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?


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.

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.


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.


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

Senator Don Gaetz, Chair Appropriations sub Committee on Education   Destin, Florida Committee Members

Representative Erik Fresen Chair Appropriations sub Committee on Education from Miami.  Committee Members

Representative Marlene O’Toole Chair Education Committee from Lady Lake  Lobby Tools Committee Members  House Education Committee Profiles

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


Education Appropriations.  Budget proposal

Choice and Innovation Subcommittee

Education Committee


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.


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. 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.


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.