Monday, July 23, 2018

Should Florida private schools that take state vouchers have degreed teachers?

After reading an Orlando Sentinel series on the issue, Florida lawmakers came to the conclusion that they needed to stiffen oversight laws affecting private schools that accept state tax-credit scholarships.

They looked at a variety of areas, ranging from school inspections to owner financial status. In drafting his legislation on the subject, Sen. David Simmons also looked at teacher credentials.

He proposed that private school teachers be degreed, differing from the House version. Since then, Simmons said, he has run into pushback.

"There are those who believe there should be certification" for all teachers, Simmons told the PreK-12 Education Committee on Thursday. "There are those on the other end who believe there should be only disclosure [of teacher qualifications] to the parents."

In his effort to get something passed, Simmons has worked to find a compromise. On Thursday, he presented an amendment that he deemed a significant step, but added remains a work in progress.

As currently written, SB 1756 would require a school to report its teachers' qualifications and also to employ teachers who hold a bachelor's degree or higher from a "regionally or nationally accredited college or university in the United States or from a recognized college or university in another country."

That's not certification, he noted, and it takes into account people who have gotten training in many types of environments. He added that the language would apply to teachers hired after July 1, 2018, and who are assigned to grades two or higher.

That way, he said, current teachers at the schools would be "grandfathered, or grandmothered" into the past rules and not lose their positions.

His idea continued to face concerns.

Robyn Rennick of the Dyslexia Research Institute urged lawmakers to allow teachers with different types of backgrounds to work in the schools, because not all kids "fit the mold" and they need different services.

Shirley Brown, a Sarasota County School Board member, cautioned against the idea of allowing teachers without degrees in kindergarten and first grade.

Those levels are "the foundation of everything else [children] know," Brown said. "I would like to see it go even further, to kindergarten."

Bridget Dickinson of the Florida Council of Independent Schools, meanwhile, said her group had some concerns about the bill, but praised Simmons for his willingness to keep working with everyone.

"We just want to achieve enough accountability … and not get too much accountability so as to damage the schools or the programs," she said.

The bill still has two more committee stops to work out the details, and then would have to be aligned with the House version if it were to head to the governor's desk.

Comments
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 15, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 15, 2018

Florida officially has a new tax credit scholarship, this one for students who claim they were victimized in school. The state Board of Education adopted rules governing the newest voucher-like program after learning it couldn’t do much to cont...
Published: 07/21/18
Pasco school district to consider new social media policy

Pasco school district to consider new social media policy

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have become common ways for Pasco County schools to reach students, parents and the public over the past five years.The district issued usage guidelines in 2013. Now the administration is asking the Scho...
Published: 07/20/18
State lawyers file response in education funding lawsuit before Florida’s Supreme Court

State lawyers file response in education funding lawsuit before Florida’s Supreme Court

After lagging for months, the lawsuit challenging Florida's education funding system gained traction again this week, with lawyers submitting arguments urging the state Supreme Court to kill the case rather than send it back to a lower...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida education news: Parent voices, teacher tests, Amendment 8 and more

Florida education news: Parent voices, teacher tests, Amendment 8 and more

PARENT VOICES: Pinellas County mom Linda Kearschner becomes Florida PTA president, and vows to work on key issues to better education for all children regardless of background — even if lawmakers seem not to be listening. "The bi...
Published: 07/20/18
The contest for School Board District 4

The contest for School Board District 4

Melissa Snively, now running for a second term to represent East Hillsborough County on the Hillsborough County School Board, discussed the district budget, low-performing schools, morale in the ranks and the elimination of courtesy busing in her edi...
Published: 07/20/18
Pinellas parent becomes Florida PTA president

Pinellas parent becomes Florida PTA president

Linda Kearschner first joined the PTA at Azalea Elementary School because her daughter was starting kindergarten."I think we all start in PTA because of our own child," she said. "But then we realize to make the world a better place … we need t...
Published: 07/19/18
Hillsborough school board candidates speak their minds

Hillsborough school board candidates speak their minds

You heard from the candidates for Hillsborough County School Board in District 1 and District 2. Four of the six candidates for the countywide District 6 seat also interviewed for Times editorial board endorsements. Here is some of what they had to s...
Published: 07/19/18
Gradebook podcast: Fighting Amendment 8, with Florida League of Women Voters president Patricia Brigham

Gradebook podcast: Fighting Amendment 8, with Florida League of Women Voters president Patricia Brigham

Supporters of Florida Constitution Revision Commission Amendment 8 focus on the part that would create school board term limits, viewing it as a popular idea that could push the proposal to the 60 percent vote needed for passage.Critics say the measu...
Published: 07/19/18
Florida education news: Turnarounds, vouchers, charter schools and more

Florida education news: Turnarounds, vouchers, charter schools and more

TURNAROUNDS: With 2018 state grades out, Hillsborough and Pinellas school district leaders bring improvement plans for their most struggling campuses to the Florida Board of Education for approval. Each gets warnings that their plans m...
Published: 07/19/18
Credit recovery high school closes

Credit recovery high school closes

Hillsborough County this year will have two, not three alternative charter high schools operated by the Accelerated Learning Solutions management group.Town and Country Charter High School is being shut down because of low enrollment, the company con...
Published: 07/18/18