- The Consortium of Florida Education Foundations and Florida Philanthropic Network presented the legislative priorities in educational policy of state lawmakers in a recent webinar for the upcoming session.
- The top priority is House Bill 1, which aims to expand the state’s school voucher program, increasing eligibility for all students in the state.
- Other priorities include Senate Bill 150, a bill seeking to bolster school safety, and Senate Bill 52, which would require social media safety education in classrooms.
The Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, in conjunction with the Florida Philanthropic Foundation, hosted a webinar on Thursday where the groups detailed legislative priorities for the upcoming Legislative Session.
The meeting led off with House Bill 1, which seeks to expand the state’s school voucher program to all students in Florida. The legislation, filed by Rep. Kaylee Tuck, would broaden the eligibility criteria, which is currently available only to students from low-income households.
According to the filing, parents could also use the scholarship funds to pay for a range of homeschooling expenditures, including the cost of private tutoring services or online courses.
State education data reports that more than 250,000 students statewide were awarded the scholarship this academic year.
“Florida is looking at what Arizona did last May, as well as Utah and Iowa in expanding school choice across the board for the universal savings account and scholarships,” said RSA Consultant Edward Briggs. “This bill goes in and allows for any student in a K through 12 environment to utilize them. It’s letting those dollars go in and follow the child.”
The groups also touched on Senate Bill 150, a piece of legislation dealing with school safety that requires the Office of Safe Schools to develop behavioral threat management processes to guide public and charter schools in identifying and monitoring threats.
The bill also requires the installation of a Florida-specific behavioral threat program to evaluate the behavior of students that may pose a threat to school inhabitants and coordinate intervention services. If passed, it would also create a Florida Safe Schools Canine program to allow schools to utilize firearm detection dogs.
Speakers also praised legislation filed by Sen. Danny Burgess, the Republican state Senator representing Zephyrhills, who filed a bill that would require social media safety education in classrooms across the state.
Per the bill’s language, it would require that public schools in Florida hold education forums that would teach students how to navigate and safely use social media platforms.
“I think a lot of this came off of what happened last year where there were various TikTok trends that were happening where [kids] would vandalize a school or kick a teacher,” said Briggs. “This is a way of the Senate trying to get in there and put some primers in place.”
Partisan school board races were also discussed as a priority of both the House and Senate. Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Spencer Roach filed joint resolutions in December that propose amendments to the State Constitution to alter the structure of local school board elections, offering the option for candidates to run under a political party. Presently, school board elections in Florida are non-partisan, meaning that no political party affiliation appears next to their name on the ballot.
NO! NO! NO! Do NOT use my tax dollars for any schools but Public Schools. Baby Trump, Meatball, DeathSantis, or whatever you want to call him as GOT TO GO!
Gov. DeSantis, I sure appreciate your ability to govern our state with fidelity and for keeping ALL students a priority. Since FL has a budget surplus, I trust you in all fiduciary matters. America would certainly benefit from your leadership.