Senate passes public education deregulation, setting up negotiation with House
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Kathleen Passidomo has prioritized the streamlining of education restrictions.

It could soon be a lot easier to teach in Florida’s public schools.

The Senate approved a series of education deregulation bills, moving a priority of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo on the second day of Session.

The bills included legislation focused on teacher recruitment (SB 7000), school innovation (SB 7002) and testing and retention (SB 7004)

Sen. Alexis Calatayud, a Miami Republican, presented the recruitment bill, which eases a number of barriers for entering teaching, including establishing a 10-year professional certificate faster for teachers during a validity period. It also allows districts to issue temporary certificates, removes restrictions on salary adjustments and sets off a process for addressing areas with critical teacher shortages.”our legislation Borna senate is looking at how to retool the current policies that we’ve put in place to create greater flexibilities for the districts. 

“Our legislation born in the Senate is looking at how to retool the current policies that we’ve put in place to create greater flexibilities for the districts,” she said.

She said the bill also streamlines renewal requirements for certification, including for VPK teachers, and expands eligibility for the teacher apprenticeship program, providing flexibility for school districts.

Sen. Rosalind Osgood, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, served a decade on the Broward County School Board and cheered the reforms generally. But she said the Legislature in recent years has too often focused on pay for new teachers while veteran educators remain hindered.

She said the gap between salaries of longtime teachers, who remain on a different pay schedule, and new ones, who can see more performance bonuses, has become increasingly compressed.

“Those that stayed have been somewhat getting penalized,” she said.

But Senators unanimously agreed the legislation presented progress. The entire series of reforms won approval in bipartisan 39-0 votes.

Sen. Travis Hutson, a Palm Coast Republican, carried legislation lawmakers hope will incentivize innovation in the schools.

“The bill enhances the ability of school boards to plan for and manage their facilities,” he said. “It expands revenue use for facilities and ancillary plants. It provides autonomy in long-term facility planning and in managing property.”

Sen. Corey Simon, a Tallahassee Republican, carried the final bill heard on the floor, which would allow parents more say on whether students are retained in schools. He called it an expansion of parental rights on the children’s future, and also said the bill eliminated high-stakes assessments required to earn a high school diploma.

The legislation led to some discussion of impacts on dropout rates. Simon said he hopes students choose to finish their education, but this empowers families to make more decisions.

“What we’re hoping is we will open up those pathways for those students to still stay in school and get their standard high school diploma,” Simon said. “But the parents are the oversight for those students that want to go on and get their GED.”

An amendment on the Senate floor brings the package somewhat in line with House legislation just  filed, Simon said, but there is still disagreement on high stakes testing.

The bill would streamline the process for districts to adopt state-required instructional material and allow flexibility in offering prekindergarten summer programs.

Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Miami Gardens Democrat, said the reforms in the bill address a number of changes school districts have sought for a long time.

“I hope the House will negotiate in the way we want them to for this good bill,” he said.

That made Passidomo openly chuckle, suggesting some negotiation may yet lay ahead during the Session. But the Naples Republican said she feels confident reforms will pass this year.

“It was a yeoman’s task and I feel very confident that our friends in the House will work with us,” she said.


Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Dont Say FLA

    January 10, 2024 at 4:35 pm

    Public education is the Devil’s playground. All good Christians must home school their children, saving them for doing Jesus work.


    January 11, 2024 at 9:47 pm

    Unqualified or almost qualified teachers who cares? The uneducated citizen is the GOD’S best voter.

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