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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Legislative scorecard: The losers

Images1 Earlier we told you about the bills that made it to the governor's desk. Here's a list of several of those that didn't get through. We tried to be comprehensive without being overwhelming. Here goes. (Didn't provide the bill links. Why bother? They didn't pass.)

Class size – Though the Legislature did postpone classroom counts by a year in HB 5083, it didn't adopt Rep. David Simmons' proposal to make full implementation more flexible. The bill had the support of several education associations and school districts. It might return next year. (HB 7043)

Evolution – After the State Board of Education approved a new science standard requiring the teaching of evolution as a key concept in biology, the critics went to work in the Legislature. But the Senate and House couldn't get in sync, and the bills died. See our past coverage here. (SB 2692, HB 1483)

65 Percent – The idea of requiring schools to spend at least 65 percent of their operating budgets in the classroom has yet to gain traction among lawmakers. (HB 1463) That did not, however, stop the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission from putting the idea on the November ballot, paired with vouchers, of all things.

Dress code – Lawmakers might not like it when kids wear their pants so low that everyone can see their underwear. But they didn't muster enough votes to stop it. (SB 302, HB 335)

Governance – Senate president Ken Pruitt wanted to rein in the Board of Governors. He threw in the idea of having voters again elect the education commissioner, a House initiative over the past few years. (See story here.) But the House didn't bite. (SJR 2308)

Charter schools – Senators thought that charter schools should come under tougher accountability standards, seeing as so many of them have had financial and/or management problems. The House didn't accept the proposal, and the Senate didn't like the House's charter schools-light bill. So nothing happened. (SB 1652/HB 1301)

Prekindergarten teacher qualifications - Ever since voters mandated pre-k in 2002, advocates have pushed for tougher credentials for the teachers. They even got Gov. Crist to voice support for the ideas that all pre-k teachers should have a bachelor's degree. But this bill to mandate the idea within five years didn't even get heard, again. (HB 741, SB 702)

Sex education - Researchers say abstinence only sex education doesn't work. This bill would have required schools to offer comprehensive, medically accurate and factual sex education curriculum. It didn't get heard. Sponsor Sen. Ted Deutch tried to attach the idea to the evolution bill, but that effort got rejected, too. (SB 848, HB 449)

School calendar - School district leaders have complained about the Legislature's decision a year ago to require school to stay closed until two weeks before Labor Day. Sen. Bill Posey seemed to be listening, proposing that local school boards be allowed to set the first day of school earlier if they meet certain conditions including a unanimous vote. The first committee to hear this bill killed it. (SB 2816)

- This bill would have reduced ESOL training for reading coaches from 300 hours to 60. Gov. Crist vetoed it a year ago. This year, the issue, which was a big deal fought primarily among South Florida lawmakers and constituents, won't get to the governor's desk. (HB 491)

Gifted - Would have mandated screening of all students for giftedness. (HB 297, SB 990)

Growth management - Would have required counting of portable classrooms when making decisions about development concurrency. (SB 474)

Energy efficient schools - Would have required schools to be rated as "green." (SB 562)

ROTC recruiter access - Would have prohibited schools from banning JROTC units and banned schools and colleges from banning military recruiters. (HB 251, SB 574)

Dropout prevention - Would have created a pilot program to allow students ages 16-18 to drop out of school and attend a "ready to work" program. (HB 817)

Civics education - Would have required inclusion of civics in the state education standards. (HB 393)

Student performance pay - Would have set monetary payments to students who achieve certain scores on selected high level exams such as AP tests. (HB 1261)

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:41am]


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