1. Gradebook

What’s going on with those other education bills?

Some of the other issues you’ve been following have landed in different legislation, sometimes in different form.
SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

The Florida Senate was in session on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 during the last week of the sixty day session.
SCOTT KEELER | Times The Florida Senate was in session on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 during the last week of the sixty day session.
Published May 1, 2019
Updated May 1, 2019

Bills to create vouchers and arm teachers have dominated discussion in the Florida Legislature over the past few days.

It would be easy to forget that other education issues remain unsettled as lawmakers work to wind down their 2019 session, culminating with a vote on the budget most likely over the weekend.

So here’s an update on the status of the measures that haven’t yet fallen completely off the rails, for those of you keeping track.

TEACHER TESTING: A House proposal to essentially eliminate the general knowledge test as part of teacher certification was significantly scaled back and included in SB 7070, the voucher bill that is now headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature. Unlike the House plan, which would have allowed teachers who do not pass the exam to avoid it by successfully completing a two-year mentorship, the provision now gives teachers on a temporary certificate longer to pass the test. Those teachers also could get a two-year extension on their 3-year temporary certificate if they earn a “highly effective” rating or complete that mentorship program mentioned in the original bill.

FINANCIAL LITERACY: The six-year effort to require a financial literacy course for high school graduation no longer exists in that form. Unable to push the mandate through, the bill sponsors worked to get a lesser requirement into legislation focused on workforce and career education (SB 770 / HB 7071). The new language would make financial literacy an elective course that every high school must offer, beginning in the fall.

WORKFORCE EDUCATION: The notion of creating more paths for a diploma, with a goal of being ready for the workplace, was one of the only education goals that appeared in both the Democrat and Republican platforms during the 2018 election. Several bills were introduced during session. But little has been said since. So what’s happening? The House merged two of them — HB 7071 and HB 7075 — into one 59-page bill that remains up for Senate consideration, alongside the Senate version (SB 770) in the next two days. The issue currently is scheduled for a May 2 debate.

BRIGHT FUTURES: The Florida Senate proposed to increase the eligibility criteria for Bright Futures scholarships, making them more selective as once intended. The House took the Senate bill and approved a strike-all amendment that eliminated mention of the scholarship, focusing instead primarily on college and university PECO funds. The Senate has received SB 190 as amended for additional consideration.

DO NOT HIRE LIST: Lawmakers in both chambers filed legislation (HB 1127 / SB 1444) to create a list of educators no longer eligible to teach in any school — public, private or charter. The House unanimously adopted its version Wednesday morning, while the Senate bill sits on second reading for its consideration.

TAX SHARING: The House bill that would, among other things, require school districts share local-option property tax revenue with charter schools (HB 7123) has been delivered to the Senate, which has yet to act on it and has its own tax bill (SB 1412) without the idea available for debate and amendments on the floor.

SCHOOL BOARD TERM LIMITS: A proposed constitutional amendment referendum to limit school board members to two consecutive four-year terms stalled in the Senate, where support was squishy. The House version remains available for floor consideration on second reading, but is not expected to move.


  1. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook, left, celebrates her reelection to her fifth term in 2016. If ultimately approved, a term limits proposal would force Florida's school board members out after two consecutive terms.
  2. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms.
  3. Chicken and vegetable dumplings with soy sauce were offered to students to test during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste-testing, Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at Pinellas Technical College. Twenty-eight new food items were tested and rated.  Some will be added to next year's school menus.
  4. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  5. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
  6. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  7. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020.
  8. Incoming Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis (center), School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) and the other board members pose as Davis signs his contract with the district on Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved the contract beforehand.
  9. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
  10. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  11. Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012. New state data show children in prekindergarten are better prepared for kindergarten than those who don't attend.
  12. Leon County fifth-grader Ingrid Hanley asks the Senate Education Committee not to adopt legislation that would get tougher on D-rated schools, during a Feb. 17, 2020, session.