2017 Legislative Session: Week 4 Highlights

2017 Legislative Session: Week 4 Highlights

Friday, March 31, 2017

During Florida’s 2017 Children’s Week celebration, House leaders passed several bills aimed at expanding educational opportunity and raising student achievement, especially for disadvantaged students.

  • House Bill 833, which expands virtual education to all Florida K-12 students, passed the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Appropriations on a unanimous, bipartisan vote.
  • House Bill 15, which expands the Gardiner Scholarship program, also passed the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Appropriations.
  • House Bill 773, which gives teachers more time to teach by moving statewide assessments, also passed the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Appropriations.

Highlights from week four of Florida's 2017 Legislative Session.

House Bill 773:

Sponsored by Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. and Representative Chris Sprowls, HB 773 passed the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Appropriations earlier this week and will now move to the House Education Committee.

The legislation would give teachers more time to teach by moving statewide assessments to the end of the school year. The bill also increases transparency by providing teachers and parents with easy-to-understand and actionable student score reports, and it ensures teachers receive timely results from local assessments to help inform classroom instruction.

Leaders from Florida’s education and business communities have expressed their support for this important piece of legislation. A recent editorial on how to fix “classroom dead time” underscored the necessity of Florida’s Fewer, Better Tests legislation.

HB 773 passed the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Quality earlier in the month with a bipartisan, unanimous vote.

Schools of Success/High-Impact Charters:

Legislation to bring "success operators" to the Sunshine State to provide students in areas of persistently low-performing schools with high-quality education options passed the House Education Committee on Thursday. Chairman Michael Bileca and Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. implored committee members to do all they can to help Florida’s at-risk students.

Earlier in the week, Senate Education Committee members listened to a panel of high-impact charter school providers describe their work to serve at-risk students. The panel featured leaders from KIPP Public Charter Schools and RePublicSchools. Committee members also heard a presentation from the Florida Department of Education.

A "success operator" or high-impact charter management organization is one that has demonstrated success in serving disadvantaged students and helping those students make significant academic progress. Currently, Florida is home to only two high-impact charter networks: KIPP (Jacksonville) and SEED (Miami).

House Bill 15:

Legislation to expand the Gardiner Scholarship Program, sponsored by Representative Jennifer Sullivan, also passed the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Appropriations.

Jeanne Boggs, a parent of a Gardiner Scholarship student, urged committee members to support the legislation because of the tremendous difference the scholarship has made in the lives of children with special needs.

HB 15 would expand the Gardiner Scholarship program to children with rare diseases and includes other allowable uses of these funds. 

House Bill 833:

Florida’s Virtual Education for All legislation, also sponsored by Representative Jennifer Sullivan, passed the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Appropriations with a unanimous, bipartisan vote. HB 833 removes barriers so that all Florida students can participate in virtual instruction.

More than 900 Florida Virtual School students were not able to continue their education during the 2016-2017 school year because of arbitrary prior-year enrollment rules currently in place.

Visit Foundation for Florida’s Future – 2017 Legislative Session for more information on these student-centered, teacher- and parent-friendly bills.

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