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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

What happened?

So what really happened to education in Tallahassee? You heard about several high-profile actions, like PE for elementary kids and performance pay for teachers. But a bunch of stuff got passed and now heads to the governor's desk. Here's a recap of all the education-related bills that made it through (with thanks to the Pasco County school district, which tracked this all religiously) . Click here if you want to search for the individual items. Note: odd-numbered bills come from the House, and even from the Senate. Coming soon - what didn't happen.

  • SB 988/HB 7103, Jessica Lunsford Act Glitch Bill - School districts have been pushing for two years to make the act a bit more manageable as they keep sex offenders off campuses. This year, they won.
  • 511/574, School District Taxes/Millage - These give "high performing" schools and districts some flexibility in following all the bureaucracy that most public schools must obey. In some ways, they become pseudo-charter schools. Also allows school districts to use tax money previously dedicated to capital projects to pay for property and casualty insurance.
  • 139/224, Suicide Prevention - Requires school districts to participate in suicide prevention efforts.
  • 403/108, Minority/Underrepresented Student Achievement Council - Creates a system to encourage more low-income and minority students to take Advanced Placement courses and succeed toward college.
  • 1564/215, Tax Free Week for school supplies - Same as it ever was. Expected to generate about $48-million in savings for families.
  • 1226/7021, Merit Award Program - A new teacher performance pay plan that, unlike what many say, still ties bonuses to test scores. It's more palatable to teachers, though, because they feel like they had more say in the front end and because it's slightly more flexible than the past law.
  • 1161/2458, High School to Business Act - Hillsborough County teens created this program that would allow each county to offer 100 paid internships to high school students. It's not a mandate, though - some districts' lobbyists objected to that, so it became an option instead.
  • 1004/573, Cyber-crimes against kids - Updates the law on Internet sex and pornography crimes, making definitions much more explicit.
  • 998/529, Cable Bill - This could affect the way school districts run their education channels.
  • 509/564, Youth Cabinet Act - Establishes a new advisory board that focuses on youth and family issues, including education.
  • 1421/2304, Digital Divide Council - The Department of Education takes over this function - essentially finding the best ways to implement technology in education and related functions, from the State Technology office.
  • 1232/965, Career Academies - School districts will have to begin planning career programs that lead to high-skilled, high-paying jobs in the local economy. It's based on the CHOICE program in Okaloosa County where, perhaps not surprisingly, the Senate sponsor served as superintendent before becoming a senator.
  • 1060/1099, PECO - This is a really technical issue that deals with the distribution of school construction money. It also states that  noncombustible portable classrooms will be considered to have a life of 35 years.
  • 1046 - Defines terms "co-teach," "team teach" and "inclusion teach" and adds them to the list of approved team teaching strategies for the purpose of class size. Also freezes the funding of high school gifted and calls for an OPPAGA study of gifted funding overall. Further, eliminates staff development and technology categoricals
  • 450, Teacher Lead Program/Pre-K - Extends the lead teacher program, and the pay that goes with it, to prekindergarten and charter school teachers.
  • 461/2200, High School Athletic Drug Testing - Puts up $100,000 to require random steroid testing in high school football, baseball and weightlifting programs. It's a pilot, and could be extended if successful. Lawmakers have wanted to do this for years.
  • 967/2746, Physical Education - Gov. Crist's pet project requiring elementary schools to offer 30 minutes of daily student physical activity.
  • 2092/653 - Returns to the time when the state sets forth School Board member base salaries, instead of requiring board members to set their own pay. Clarifies high school PE graduation requirements, after last year's change that among other things left off playing varsity sports as an option, and modifies charter school rules slightly.
  • 2512 - Scales back the amount training in English for Speakers of Other Languages for teachers who do not specialize in the field, from 300 hours down to 60 hours.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:17am]


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