Education bills keep coming in Tallahassee
After a busy 2011 session, some key Florida lawmakers tell the Gradebook they expect a less activist 2012 when it comes to education matters.
That doesn't mean silent, though. With committees convening soon in advance of the January session, the bills continue to stream in. Among the latest:
SB 96, by Sen. Joe Negron (R), recommends a constitutional amendment to return Florida's education commissioner to an elected position serving in the Cabinet. Florida's last elected commissioner was Charlie Crist. Gerard Robinson, the newly appointed commissioner, was named by the State Board of Education with lots of pressure from Gov. Rick Scott.
SB 98 finds Sen. Gary Siplin (D) again trying to create law that would allow for prayers or benedictions at secondary-school events. Lawmakers from both parties have tried to pass similar legislation for several years, but continually come up against constitutional concerns.
SB 144, by Sen. Anitere Flores (R), aims to restrict the use of restraint and seclusion of special-needs students in the schools. This idea has been promoted at the federal and state level for many years, as well, but also has fallen short of becoming law, although some school districts have acted on their own.
SB 94, by Sen. Mike Fasano (R), would give military veterans priority course registration at certain Florida colleges and universities. Fasano also has filed SB 164, which would grant resident status to all military veterans for purposes of in-state tuition.
SB 120, by Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D), would return funding to public broadcasting through the education budget. SBOE member Akshay Desai attempted to put this concept into the board's legislative budget request ('it's educational") but found no support among his colleagues.
They'll just keep coming. We still haven't seen anything on professor tenure, higher education accountability or vouchers for all, among other ideas still floating around. Stay tuned.