Back in September, Gov. Rick Scott declared at the end of his education "listening tour" that teachers face too many "unnecessary requirements and regulations" that get in the way of classroom teaching. On Monday he signed into law SB 1096, which he said provides that relief.
"Many teachers and administrators I spoke with expressed the need for flexibility which led me to convene a group of superintendents from around the state to review and recommend red tape rules and regulations we should cut in order to increase teachers' time in the classroom. This legislation is a direct result of recommendations provided from the workgroup and we appreciate the input received from superintendents from across the state," Scott said in a news release. "This legislation removes unnecessary hurdles to preparing our students for college and careers and puts more control and flexibility into local districts hands so teachers can be where they belong – in the classroom, educating our students."
What does the bill do? Among its many provisions it:
• Ends the requirement that schools make annual reports of their recycling efforts, family involvement rules, school wellness policies and paperwork reduction.
• Repeals inactive and underused programs including Alternative Credit for High School Courses, Pilot Project, the High School to Business Career Enhancement Program, Incentives for Urban or Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Area Internships, Centers of Technology Innovation, Dropout Reentry and Mentor Project, Sunshine Workforce Solutions Grants, Florida Minority Medical Education Program, Transition to Teaching Program, School Infrastructure Thrift (SIT) Program, A Business-Community (ABC) School Program, and Effort Index Grants.
• Eliminates outdated, expired or unused statutory language in areas such as foreign language curriculum plans, the FLDOE parent response center, high school majors of interest, a teacher lead system electronic management pilot program and a special exception on millage rates offered to three school districts.
You can read the full bill analysis here. Compare it, then, to the proposed ideas put forth by the governor's hand-picked group of superintendents who advised the process. Their list included did call for the removal of district level reporting requirements, as well as such proposals as eliminating the state's graduation requirement of one online course and the end of state-mandated instructional materials (in a separate bill that's awaiting House action). They also recommended taking a closer look in the future at issues including easing class size requirements, moving class start dates and delaying performance pay implementation (some of which were taken up in other bills and defeated).
Question: How if at all do these ideas get back to the intent of making it easier for teachers to teach? Here's what two influential state leaders had to say in Scott's news release:
Florida Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett - "There are many exciting changes coming to Florida's students as we continue to raise standards and empower our schools and teachers to prepare a world-class workforce. This law will clarify the focus on that common goal by eliminating unnecessary and archaic clutter."
Senator Bill Montford - "This bill relieves school districts of unnecessary and burdensome regulations. It will allow our classroom teachers, administrators and support personnel to spend more time working for Florida students."
What do you say?