Sine Die 2013 Legislative Session Update

May 7, 2013 - This is the final Frontline Report for the 2013 Legislative Session. Watch for our legislative analysis in our 2013 End of Session report...


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It was eerily quiet, overcast, drizzly, and gloomy on the last day of session.  Deserted Adams Street looked as though it was a scene on an old black and white cathode ray tube TV.  In the Capitol, the usual crush of lobbyists packed onto the fourth floor never seemed to materialize. The nearly deafening sound of their voices echoing through the fourth and fifth floors was absent.  Sizzling debate was for the most part replaced by bored blathering.  At 7:16 p.m. after numerous stops and starts the 2013 Legislative Session crept silently into the night. Thank heavens.

As we told you before, there was a lot of ‘hitch-hiking’ going on during the last couple of weeks of session.  Bits and pieces of language from dying bills started turning up in the oddest places – and amendment sponsors did their best to bury these little annoying tidbits in bored soothing explanations of the language’s consequence.  So, in the end there was a tangle of bill language to unravel.

Although this is the last Frontline until next Session rolls around, remember that we prepare a Session Summary with more in-depth analysis. This generally takes us a couple weeks.  


Bill Tracking

 

The state budget bill – SB 1500 - was discussed and passed on the last day of session taking up most of the day. You’ve heard about the $480 million for salaries – which is part of the $1 billion dollar funding increase to education.  A full discussion of the budget will be included in the Session Summary. Budget bills include:

SB 1500 – General Appropriations Act by Appropriations

SB 1502 – General Appropriations Act/Implementing by Appropriations

SB 1514 – Education Funding Conforming Bill by Education Appropriations

SB 1810 – Florida Retirement System Contribution Rates by Gov. Oversight

 

NOTE: there were two ‘policy’ bills sent to conference, but only SB 1720 Postsecondary Education (discussed later on in the report) survived. SB 878 – the Research Engine bill that drew fire from parent groups due to concerns as to how student identifiable data would be used by ‘research organizations’ – evaporated after the House and Senate deadlocked in disagreement. Some of the non-controversial elements of SB 878 were incorporated into other bills, the troubling provisions were not adopted.

GOING, GOING, GONE!

You know this, but we kind of like to dance in the end zone one last time:  SB 1392 and HB 7011 the Florida Retirement System Destruction bills died.  SB 862 and HB 867 “Parent Trigger” bills died in the Senate by a tie vote, once again.  [Note: One provision carried within the Parent Trigger bill that dealt with assignment of teachers was amended onto several bills throughout session - another one of the many hitch-hiker provisions we saw this year- was amended onto HB 7009 the Charter School bill soon after the death of Trigger. To be very clear: it was NOT the Trigger language].  Will any of these bills be back?  The legislature can’t seem to keep their hands off of your retirement, so it’s likely.  When you meet with your legislators this summer and next fall keep reminding them they don’t need to fiddle with your retirement.  As for the Parent Trigger – that depends on Jeb.  It is interesting that his bill’s death did what he and his minions had said they wanted to happen: parents across Florida were empowered.   They rose up by the tens of thousands and told him NO on Parent Trigger.  Do you think he heard them this time?


BILLS THAT PASSED


HB 801
- Guidance Counselors (CS/SB 154)
replaces, within the Florida Statutes, the term “guidance counselor” with “certified school counselor.” This change reflects the current requirement that persons employed as school counselors hold a certificate in guidance and counseling as provided by law and SBE rule.  To be certified in guidance and counseling, a person must hold a master’s or higher degree with a graduate major in guidance and counseling or counselor education or a master’s or higher degree with 30 semester hours of graduate credit in specified guidance and counseling courses.

SB 1108 – Exceptional Student Education by Gardiner was mainly about more involvement of parents of students with disabilities in meetings and decisions regarding assessment and placement. But it also defines an Exceptional Student Education Center and specifies the accountability requirements that apply to them. The bill establishes requirements for the reimbursement of federal funds to charter schools. The bill requires school districts to provide exceptional student education-related services, as defined by State Board of Education rule, for a home education student with a disability who is eligible for the services and who enrolls in a public school for the purpose of receiving those services.

But what has raised questions from FEA members is the provision that requires applicants for renewal of a professional educator certificate to earn a minimum of one college credit or the equivalent inservice points in the area of instruction for teaching students with disabilities.  The impact this requirement will have on individual teachers largely depends upon the areas of certification and their recertification timelines.

CS/CS/SB 1388 by Sen. Montford - Instructional Materials for K-12 Public Education increases flexibility for a school district while requiring instructional materials to align with state standards. The bill authorizes a school district to review, approve and purchase instructional materials, while retaining a DOE statewide instructional materials review process.

The local and state instructional materials review processes will have a cost; however, the cost may be mitigated or offset with a fee assessed to publishers. The fees are to be used to cover the cost of substitute teachers who replace teachers selected to review materials, and travel and per diem costs. Reviewers may be paid a stipend. There is no requirement for a state appropriation.

SB 1664 by Legg - Teacher Preparation and Accountability The bill was based in part on recommendations made by last year’s Teacher Leader Preparation Committee.  The committee recognized the necessity of high standards for candidates, supervisors and programs, as well as significant field experiences before a new teacher steps into a classroom. The bill contains revisions of State Board of Education rules for uniform core curricula for state-approved teacher preparation programs.

Legislators removed a provision which would have specifically named the Teach for America training program as one of the acceptable criteria for demonstrating mastery of professional preparation and education competence. In the end the “Burger King Manager” provision survived.  This will allow individuals to obtain a temporary certificate in educational leadership if they have 3 years of “successful” experience in an executive management or leadership position and a bachelors or higher degree from an accredited institution of higher education, and earn a passing score on the Florida Educational Leadership Examination.   ‘Successful experience’ is not defined in law.  It does require they be under a mentorship of a state-certified school administrator during the term of the temporary certificate.

Hitch-hiker provisions that were also incorporated into the bill:

  • Rep. Fresen’s HB 1033 changes the name of the Teacher Lead program to Teachers Classroom Supply Assistance Program and describes that if funds are distributed by debit card that an “identifier be on the front of a debit card which clearly indicates that the card has been issued for the Florida Teachers Classroom Supply Assistance Program.
  • Sen Flores’ SB 980 revises the teacher and administrator evaluation process to require that teachers must be evaluated based on the performance of students assigned to them, administrators must be evaluated based on students at the school, and non-instructional personnel must be evaluated based on the actual contributions of such personnel to the performance of students.
  • Rep. Manny Diaz’s HB 53 which requires school districts to post schedules for any district-mandated assessments.

SB 1720 – Postsecondary Education by Galvano was one of the bills that the House and Senate could not agree upon so it ended up in conference committee.  The bill requires a Florida College System institution to implement a developmental education plan no later than Fall 2014 and to make annual accountability reports on developmental education beginning in 2015; specifies which students are not required to be tested or to enroll in developmental education and requires colleges to provide students with developmental education options including in-course tutoring. Allows students to elect to take developmental education testing and instruction.

  • Reinstates the general education credit hour requirement to 36 semester hours from the proposed 30 hours and extends implementation of the revised core course requirements for one year, from 2014-15 to 2015-16.
  • Creates a new Office of K-20 Articulation in the Department of Education to support the work of the Higher Education Coordinating Council and revises membership and duties of the council.
  • Transfers oversight of the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute’s lease from the Board of Governors to the University of South Florida.
  • Gives the Board of Governors stronger oversight authority over state universities in regard to laws, rules, and regulations.
  • Specifies minimum sample size and minimum percentage of students tested in order for schools to receive a school grade or school improvement rating, and defines "colocated schools" for purposes of school accountability.
  • Requires specified content to be included on student report cards that are distributed to parents of students enrolled in alternative schools.
  • Directs the Department of Education to develop criteria for issuing and revoking master school identification (MSID) numbers.
  • Repeals the FAFSA requirement for Bright Futures Scholarships and for FRAG and ABLE tuition assistance grants.
  • For education accountability purposes, establishes dates by which licensed private postsecondary institutions must report data to the Commission for Independent Education and nonprofit independent colleges and universities must report data to the Department of Education.
  • Provides rule making authority regarding penalties for not reporting child abuse at postsecondary institutions.
  • Increases the cap on the number of fee exemptions a Florida College System institution may grant.
  • Authorizes a Florida College System institution to establish a differential out-of-state fee for non-resident distance learners.

HB 7009 Charter Schools this became another catch-all for this year’s education legislation. The bill was amended to include some much needed charter school accountability language taken from HB 7009 and SB 1282.  BUT it also includes some bad language from those bills – what we mean are things like speeding up timelines for charter school approval, increasing costs to districts by creating a double review process, charging DOE with creating a standard statewide application which may fit well for Charter Schools USA but not so for the little charter guy, etc. The final bill language that was added to HB 7009 came from:

  • SB 1630 by Sen. Legg - Common Core Assessment/Technology. The provision requires that the technology infrastructure, connectivity, and capacity of all public schools and school districts is capable of successfully deploying and implementing online assessments before the full implementation of online common core assessments for kindergarten through grade 12 students.  
  • HB 867 by Rep. Trujillo which requires that students not have a teacher rated unsatisfactory or needs improvement for two years in a row (this was also tacked onto the Trigger bill)
  • A modified version of SB 1390 by Sen. Montford- Innovation Schools which creates the process for districts to establish innovation schools of technology which are exempt from certain education statutes.
  • Another addition to the bill came from HB 189 by Rep. Moratis changes the compliance calculation for maximum class size for a public school of choice from the maximum number of students for each classroom to the school average per classroom.

HB 7029 Virtual Education (SB 904) The FACT (Florida Approved Courses and Tests) bill got a scrubbing and finally made its way to a vote.  Although we had heard this bill was going to die, it passed both chambers but not after a lot of flexing and floundering.  It became a conglomeration of things digital and virtual and was finally sold to legislators as a “study bill.”  What is says is DOE will “contract with a qualified contractor to review and provide recommendations for online courses including massive open online course, and competency-based online courses for K-12 and postsecondary education.”  It goes on to outline what must be reported, all of the assessments that will be required and established, and more.  The findings of this so-called study are to be presented to the Governor, Senate President and House Speaker by February 1, 2014. 

FACT will not be implemented until the 2015-2016 school year. and requires the SBOE and Board of Governors to adopt rules so students can earn credit for online courses including massive open online courses (MOOCs). It limits the inclusion of MOOCs to Algebra I, geometry and civics.  There’s more: DOE is instructed to develop an “online catalog’ of available digital learning courses with descriptors and a method for students and teachers to provide evaluative feedback, includes Florida Virtual School Global in statute, directs the Auditor General to conduct an operational audit of the FLVS and FLVS Global with a report due by January 31, 2014; redefines eligible students for online courses, thereby allowing students to take virtual courses from any district without previous restrictions and they can take those courses during the normal school day--- that is it in a nutshell.  We’ll have a more in-depth report on this bill in our Session Summary.

HB 7165 Early Learning The bill changes the governance structure of the Office of Early Learning by moving it within the Department of Education’s Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice. Among a host of new provisions, the bill also increases financial accountability for the program.  The bill requires the Office of Early Learning to:

  • adopt a list of approved curricula and a process for the review and approval of a provider’s curriculum that meets the performance standards;
  • identify a pre-assessment and post-assessment for school readiness program participants;
  • adopt a statewide, standardized contract to be used by coalitions with each school readiness program provider;
  • coordinate with other agencies to perform data matches on individuals or families participating in the School Readiness program.

 

MORE BILLS OF INTEREST THAT PASSED – just in case you are curious

SB 2 – Ethics by Ethics & Elections

SB 4 – Public Records / Commission on Ethics by Ethics & Elections

HB 21 – Background Screening / Contractors by Perry

SB 50 – Public Meetings by Negron

HB 113 – Distribution of Materials Harmful to Minors by M. Diaz

SB 142 – Intellectual Disabilities by Altman

HB 249 – Public Records / Voter Registration by Nelson

SB 284 – Student Safety / Emergencies by Negron

HB 407 – Criminal Gang Prevention by Ingram

HB 461 – Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children by Rooney

HB 569 – Campaign Finance by Schenck

HB 609 – Bullying in Public Schools by Fullwood

HB 617 – Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Boards by Pilon

HB 633 – Biodiesel Fuel by Perry

HB 7003 – Interstate Compact / Military Children by K-12

HB 7013 – Elections by Ethics & Elections

HB 7087 – Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services by Agriculture

HB 7089 – Public Records / School Food Service by Agriculture

 

Member Lobbyists

Alachua, Orange, Palm Beach, Lake, Pasco, and St. Johns Counties kept their legislators in check this final week in Tallahassee.

Thank you for joining us! Questions?  Call us at 850-224-2078. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Sign up to receive Legislative Alerts from FEA Text Alerts

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