This Video Update features Dr. Wayne Blanton discussing the highlights of the House and Senate Education Budgets, SB 1620 and HB 7099 relating to an expansion of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, and SB 864 and HB 921 relating to adoption of instructional materials. Dr. Blanton encourages you to take action on these issues.
House and Senate Budgets: Dr. Blanton provides highlights of the House and Senate Education Budgets. FSBA is working on a detailed comparison of the House and Senate budgets that will be available on Monday along with an analysis of available conforming bills. These bills will be debated on the floor of each chamber next week and we will provide more detailed talking points prior to consideration on the floor. (Continue reading below the video for more information and requested actions )
Action Requested: Please contact your legislative delegation members to express support for their ongoing efforts to restore the funding that has been cut from the education budget during the Recession and encourage your Senator(s) to increase total FEFP funding to match the House proposal, particularly with regard to Technology funding. (Senate email addresses are available HERE; House email addresses are available HERE)
SB 1620 and HB 7099 relating to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program:
FSBA is opposed to efforts to create or expand school choice or voucher programs that lack comparable academic and operating accountability and lack a record of success in demonstrating student learning gains. As we have reported to you, the Senate sponsor of the bill – Senator Bill Galvano — has withdrawn SB 1620 from further consideration in the Senate, citing concerns that the House was unwilling negotiate on the issue of requiring academic accountability in the program. Senate President Don Gaetz has made it clear that the Senate would not approve an expansion of this voucher program if it did not include a requirement that student attending private schools under this program would be subject to the same statewide assessment requirements as students in the public school system.
Action Requested: Please contact Senator Galvano to express thanks and support for his decision to withdraw SB 1620. Also contact Senate President Don Gaetz to thank him for his leadership on this issue. You may contact Senator Galvano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-487-5026 and you may contact Senator Gaetz at email@example.com or 850-487-5001. In addition, please contact your House delegation members and express opposition to HB 7099. (House email addresses are available HERE)
SB 864 and HB 921 relating to Adoption of Instructional Materials:
FSBA is opposed to this bill. The bill eliminates the current state-level instructional materials review, selection, adoption, and purchasing process conducted by the Department of Education, and transfers all of these responsibilities to local school boards. In so doing, the state abdicates its responsibility to provide for a UNIFORM system of free public schools, imposes a tremendous unfunded mandate on school districts, deprives school districts of the “economy of scale” in textbook purchasing power, inserts the prospect of social and political bias in the adoption process, and jeopardizes the validity of the results of state assessments that are based on instruction from differing instructional materials.