Listen to this week’s Pundits on the Porch podcast to hear Foundation for Florida’s Future Executive Director Patricia Levesque talk about Florida’s unprecedented turnaround in academic achievement and what lawmakers can do next to ensure student success.

Highlights:

  • A new survey from Florida Atlantic University shows that expanding private education choice to middle-income families was the third most popular policy proposal among Floridians.
  • According to a Florida Department of Education report released this week, public charter school students have higher academic achievement, greater learning gains and the achievement gap between student groups is smaller.
  • A bipartisan bill to create a new K-12 scholarship program for low-income and middle-class families (up to 375% of the federal poverty level) passed its final House committee of reference on Tuesday.

 

Bill to Expand Private Education Choice to Middle-Income Families Moves Forward

Legislation to expand private education choice to middle-income families passed the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. The 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.

House Bill 7075, which cleared the House Appropriations Committee on March 27, would provide up to 28,000 scholarships in the first year, and increase by that amount each year thereafter.

The bill can now be considered by the full chamber.

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.

 

Florida Charter School Student Achievement Report:

Nearly 300,000 Florida students – or one in ten – attended a public charter school in 2018. While more families being able to choose the school that works for them is in itself a triumph for democracy, there’s even more good news for students: Florida’s public charter students are outperforming their peers in traditional public schools in academic achievement and learning gains.

According to a Florida Department of Education report released this week, public charter school students have higher academic achievement, greater learning gains and the achievement gap between student groups is much smaller.

Read Foundation for Florida’s Future Executive Director Patricia Levesque’s take on this annual report.

 

Other Bills Moving Through the Capitol:

Legislation to strengthen college and career pathways for Florida students unanimously passed the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee this week and now moves for consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee.

House Bill 7071, a committee-proposed bill, would create the “SAIL to 60” Initiative to increase adult workforce attainment to 60 percent. It would also put into place a reverse transfer policy to increase attainment of associate degrees.

Additionally, it would 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.

Lawmakers are also considering several pieces of legislation that would expand access to public charter schools. Senate Bill 1470 by Senator Manny Diaz, Jr. passed the Senate Education meeting on March 26.

The legislation would allow the Charter School Commission to authorize the applications of high-performing charter schools seeking to replicate the same successful schools in Florida.