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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

More losers than winners among education bills in Tallahassee

Plenty of ideas went into the hopper as Florida lawmakers prepared for this year's legislative session. Yet only a few survived to the finish, making their way to Gov. Charlie Crist for his signature or veto.

As the budget winds its way toward passage, we thought we'd take a look at the education-related bills that made the grade and the (much larger) list of those that didn't. (You can look up all the bills here, if you want to check them out.)

We'll start with the successful efforts.

  • Thumbs-up.Allows university boards of trustees to select their president -- sorry Board of Governors. (SB 234 / HB 489)
  • Charter school accountability -- failed last year, came back strong with sponsor Sen. Don Gaetz more willing to deal. (SB 278)
  • Expansion of corporate tax credit scholarship program -- this program is picking up steam, and bipartisan support, each year. (HB 453)
  • Exempts personally identifiable information gathered from testing information from public record (HB 895)
  • Exempts personally identifiable dependent information from public record -- thank Polk dad Joel Chandler for this one. (HB 135)
  • Flexibility on zero-tolerance policy -- and still no ban on saggy pants. (SB 1540)
  • School hour and day flexibility -- still, few educators like the idea of a four-day week. (Not approved as bills but added to budget.)
  • Allow schools to collect full cost of lost books -- you lose it, you bought it. (SB 1248)
  • Universities allowed to increase tuition -- Sorry if you can't afford it. Bright Futures won't help. (SB 762)

Read on for the remains.

Here's what didn't make it. Blame the budget for the demise of many, as lawmakers sought to keep everything revenue neutral. And rest assured, many of these ideas will be back.


  • Middle School Civics Education -- Senators weren't sold that this wouldn't cost. (HB 13)
  • 1 percent sales tax for education -- Teachers asked for it. House members wouldn't have it. (HB 731)
  • Class-size reduction changes -- Like every year before, the idea died in the Senate despite pleas of support among many major education groups. (HJR 919)
  • Creating end-of course FCAT biology exam to replace 11th-grade science FCAT -- Popular idea, but not enough to move in the Senate. (HB 543)
  • 70 percent solution -- A solution in search of a problem. (SB 1978)
  • Changes to teacher tenure -- A push from Jeb Bush couldn't help this one. (HB 1411)
  • Increase high school graduation standards -- This one will be back. (HB 1293)
  • Deleting abstinence education requirement -- never mind the studies that say it doesn't work. (HB 19 / SB 268)
  • Require degrees for VPK teachers -- This had bipartisan support but couldn't get past the budget hump. (HB 487 / SB 602)
  • Allowing inspirational messages at school events -- Too controversial, with little real impact on education. (HB 533 / SB 1360)
  • Require teaching intelligent design -- See "inspirational messages." (SB 2396)
  • Sure Futures Graduate Scholarship Program. (HB 23)
  • Remove school letter grades -- A Dem proposal that's just not going to happen. (SB 78)
  • Changing mandatory attendance age to 18. (SB 82)
  • Speed zones at K-12 schools. (HB 87)
  • Increasing hours of VPK. (SB 100)
  • Veterans tuition assistance. (SB 208)
  • Creation of Florida Healthy Teens Act. (SB 220)
  • Amend Constitution to set minimum teacher salaries. (SJR 232)
  • Gifted education improvements. (HB 835)
  • Delete FCAT graduation and promotion requirements. (HB 1203)
  • Require corporate tax credit scholarship recipients to take the FCAT. (HB 1325)
  • Prohibit physical restraint of students with disabilities. (SB 2480 / HB 1449)
  • Pay teachers first/recall school board members. (SB 2466 / HB 1323)
  • Require schools to seek community members for advisory councils. (SB 398)
  • Revisions to school grades, graduation requirements. (HB 7087)
  • Require report to parents on teacher turnover. (HB 355)
  • Authorize education commissioner to waive final exam requirements for students who meet criteria. (HB 613)
  • Allow school nurses to keep and use EpiPens for students with allergies. (HB 721)
  • Class size "scholarships." (HB 999)
  • Revise list of required immunizations. (HB 1455 / SB 2674)
  • Create GED alternative option to receive a high school diploma. (HB 1527 / SB 2232)

Did we miss anything? Hope not. Now stay tuned for the final budget, and then we can be all done (for now, at least).


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:22am]


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