Graduation standards bill keeps going
Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, was in front of the House preK-12 appropriations committee this afternoon to pitch HB 1293, which raises the high school graduation standards by requiring certain math and science courses.
Saying "we've fallen way, way behind" compared to education in other countries, Fresen pitched the plan as "just one step to get us closer to the global community."
Representatives of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida said Fresen's bill is priority legislation for their organizations in terms of taking a long-term approach to improving the state's economy.
Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie, told Fresen he supports about 90 percent of the bill, specifically the plan to raise standards and increase the skill level students graduate with. However, Kiar took specific issue with a provision within the legislation that would increase the score required for graduation on the 10th grade FCAT from a 2 to a 3.
"This expands the FCAT," said Kiar, an outspoken opponent of the statewide test. "It makes it more difficult for our kids to get their diplomas."
Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, was worried about raising standards at a time of decreased funding. "With raising the bar comes the raising of the bar tab," Bullard said.
Committee chair Anitere Flores, R-Miami, countered that "this bill makes our diploma mean something ... Quite frankly, it should be improved higher than that."
Shortly after, the bill passed on a 5-3 vote, with Kiar, Bullard and Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach, as the nays.
Amy Hollyfield, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau