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Florida Republicans try again for universal education savings accounts

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
 
Florida Republican leaders on Thursday unveiled legislation to create universal education savings accounts for children. As this screen grab from the Koch group's 2019 TV ad pushing for the concept shows, the idea has been out there for years. | YouTube
Florida Republican leaders on Thursday unveiled legislation to create universal education savings accounts for children. As this screen grab from the Koch group's 2019 TV ad pushing for the concept shows, the idea has been out there for years. | YouTube
Published Jan. 20, 2023

The big story: Republican leaders in the Florida House on Thursday unveiled a new proposal to establish universal education savings accounts for all K-12 age children in the state.

Other high-powered lawmakers have filed bills pushing the concept in the past. None of them found success.

This year, they’re predicting smooth sailing for the measure in the Legislature with a GOP supermajority. It would allow families to spend state funds on all sorts of non-public education services, including home schooling, college courses and private tutoring.

Noting the accounts would come in addition to the state’s other school choice and voucher programs, House Speaker Paul Renner said, “We’re simply making sure no one is left out.” Most eligibility limitations would be removed under the proposal, though students could still get priority based on lower income levels or foster care.

Renner predicted bipartisan support for the measure, which was named HB 1 to indicate its significance to the leadership. House Democrats begged to differ, calling the bill a broadside attack on traditional public education. There’s no Senate companion yet, but Senate president Kathleen Passidomo tweeted her support for this “visionary bill.” Read more here.

Hot topics

African American studies: Gov. Ron DeSantis has not provided any detailed information on why his office has rejected the new AP African American studies course as violating state law. A review of the course syllabus shows it includes topics such as “Black queer studies” and “post-racial racism and colorblindness,” Florida Standard reports. More from the USA Today Florida Network.

Classroom displays: A new Miami-Dade County School Board member has proposed revamping the district’s recently adopted rule on flags in classrooms, WPLG reports. The board previously did not include limitations on types of flags, but the new conservative majority has called for a rewrite that does not include protected classes.

Charter schools: The College of the Florida Keys is preparing to open a new charter school aimed at helping students complete a high school diploma and associate’s degree at the same time, Keys Weekly reports.

School rules: Palm Beach County students will have new rules on visiting the school nurse and going on field trips after the School Board revamped policies to comply with new state laws, the Palm Beach Post reports. • The Charlotte County School Board is considering 49 proposed policy changes so it can meet the “parental rights in education” law, the Sun reports.

Security: The Palm Beach County school district will begin testing the use of metal detectors at its high schools, WPTV reports.

Teacher pay: The Broward County school district reached a tentative salary agreement with teachers one day after being chastised by the State Board of Education for failing to put the money into teachers’ pockets, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Teacher shortage: Brevard County schools have turned to international teachers to fill classroom vacancies, WOFL reports.

From the police blotter ... A Palm Beach County teacher was arrested on accusations of having a gun and knife on campus, WPEC reports. • The dean of an Escambia County middle school was arrested on allegations of multiple crimes involving a minor, WEAR reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is a click away.

Before you go ... Anyone else an American Auto fan? Looks like they’re picking up with a new season.

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