Monday, May 21, 2018

Financial literacy bill again moves through Florida Senate: Do schools need more time for such measures?

For the fifth year running, state Sen. Dorothy Hukill has filed legislation seeking to add a half-credit financial literacy course as a Florida high school graduation requirement.

Once again, her Senate colleagues (who named the measure after her in 2017 while she was ill) are speeding the provision through their committees. It gained unanimous support Wednesday from the PreK-12 Appropriations panel, its second point of reference.

But once again, the discussion has returned to the larger issue that when lawmakers add requirements for students and schools, something has to give  — and it usually doesn't.

"We have 180 days, 7 hours a day. Is that enough for what we expect our children to be exposed to in an education?" said Sen. Bill Montford, a one-time Leon County superintendent who backed HB 88.

He acknowledged that adding more time to the school day would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. "That's a discussion for another day," Montford said.

But the discussion needs to occur at some point, he added.

Sen. Gary Farmer echoed the sentiment, saying school days easily could be longer to incorporate all the extras people would like to have offered. He suggested a possible target to help.

"If we could reduce testing, that would free up time for great programs … to diversify the experience for our kids," Farmer said.

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