Bills to Create New K-12 Scholarship Programs Clear First Committee Stops:
Legislation to create new K-12 scholarship programs have passed in both the Senate Education Committee and House Education Committee since the start of Florida’s 2019 legislative session.
SB 7070, a Senate Education Committee bill, passed its first committee meeting on March 5. The legislation would create a new Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, which would allow up to 15,000 families who are currently eligible for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) program, receive a scholarship to attend the participating private school of their choice. It is estimated that at least 13,000 students are currently on the FTC program waitlist. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee next week. If you would like to encourage the Senate to raise the income limit on the new program, please email Kassandra@aFloridaPromise.org.
In the other chamber, a House Education Committee bill would create a K-12 scholarship program that would allow low-income and middle-class families attend a private school of their choice, with priority given to low-income families. The proposal, which cleared the House Education Committee on March 14 with a bipartisan vote, would provide up to 28,000 scholarships in the first year, and increase by that amount each year thereafter.
Under HB 7075, the following example families of four would be eligible to participate in the House’s Family Empowerment Scholarship program:
- Bank Teller ($30,530*) married to Carpenter ($39,620) would qualify in year 1 of the House’s proposal.
- Home Health Aide ($23,630) married to a Power-Line Installer ($54,840) would qualify in year 2 of the House’s proposal.
- Hairdresser ($31,980) married to a Firefighter ($52,170) would qualify in year 3 of the House’s proposal.
- Police Officer ($58,400) married to a Health Care Support Worker ($36,520) would qualify in year 4 of the House’s proposal.
This represents a significant expansion in the number of families eligible to receive a scholarship in Florida.
*Wage and occupation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Report.
Mastery-Based Education Bill Passes Senate Education Committee:
Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes, unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee on March 12. The legislation would give participating public school districts additional flexibility to continue innovating student learning by:
- Expanding the mastery-based education pilot to other interested districts and university laboratory schools.
- Providing flexibility for the awarding of high school credit based on mastery of academic content in lieu of the required 135-hours of “seat time.”
- Providing flexibility for the interpretation of student A-F grades (e.g., A= Mastery instead of 90-100%).
House Bill 401, sponsored by Representative Nick DiCeglie, is similar to the Senate bill and is expected to be considered by the House Education committee in the coming weeks.
Workforce Education Bill Passes House Committee:
Legislation to address postsecondary workforce education, HB 7071, passed the House Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee on March 13.
This committee–proposed bill would:
- Create “SAIL to 60” Initiative to increase adult workforce attainment to 60 percent.
- Puts into place a reverse transfer policy that would increase attainment of associate degrees. (Currently students at four-year universities and colleges who do not complete their Bachelor’s degree programs are unable to be awarded an Associate degree, even if they met the requirements for the degree, because their current institution does not award that type of degree.)
- Eliminate the Higher Education Coordinating Council within the Florida Department of Education and create the Florida Talent Development Council to guide the state’s strategic planning for talent development.
- Create a new competitive grant program, the Florida Apprenticeship Grant Program, available for district career centers, charter technical centers, colleges and other entities authorized to sponsor apprenticeship programs.