EDUCATION POLICY & PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT UPDATE
Friday, March 19, 2010
In this issue:
1. Florida Legislative Session Action
2. White House Releases Blueprint For The New ESEA
3. Considering The Implications Of Citizens V. Fec On The Non-Profit World
4. Running The Numbers
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FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SESSION ACTION
SENATE 0004 (by Nancy Detert, R-Venice and 10 others) This bill is consistent, in part, with proposals from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Florida's Future, and Achieve, Inc. It is also consistent with the state's Race to the Top grant proposal. This bill would eliminate FCAT administration for mathematics (Grades 9 and 10) and science (Grade 11) in favor of end-of-course examinations. It would require students to pass Geometry, Biology I, Algebra II, Chemistry or physics, and an "equally rigorous science course" in order to graduate from high school. It would also require passing certain end-of-course examinations in order to receive credit in most of those courses, and would allow students to earn credit in those courses by examination only. It would also require high school students to take at least one virtual course in order to graduate. The bill would eliminate Florida's current system of having high school students declare majors. The bill was approved by the Education Committee on March 10 by a 6-2 vote. The bill was approved on March 16 by the Senate Policy & Steering Committee on Ways and Means with 17-7 vote.
SENATE 0006 (by John Thrasher, R-Jacksonville and 8 others) This bill is consistent, in part, with proposals from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Florida's Future, and Achieve, Inc. It is also consistent with the state's Race to the Top grant proposal. It would require that more than 50 percent of the salary of instructional personnel and school-based administrators (including those in charter schools) would be based on student learning gains and would require differentiated pay for difficult assignments. It would forbid school districts from considering an employee's experience or education when determining compensation. It would abolish professional services contracts for teachers hired after July 1, 2010 and limit those teachers to holding only probationary or annual contracts. It would also require that non-instructional personnel would be compensated under a performance pay plan. It would require all high schools (including all charter high schools) to implement end-of-course examinations in all subjects not tested with FCAT, IB, AP, or similar examinations. The bill would shorten the time available to obtain professional certification and would abolish certification on the basis of a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards credential. The bill requires local school boards to impose a punitive ad valorem tax if the school district fails to comply with these new requirements. The bill was approved by the Education Committee on March 10 by a 6-2 vote. The bill will be considered today and tomorrow by the Senate & Steering Committee on Ways and Means.
HOUSE 0413 (by John Wood, R-Winter Haven ) would make historical reductions in pensions provided under the Florida Retirement System. For new hires, the bill would eliminate the option of choosing the defined benefit plan currently used by 88% of all FRS members and limit their retirement benefit only to the defined contribution plan. The bill will be considered by the House Governmental Affairs Policy Committee next week.
House 1173 (by Erik Fresen, R-Miami) authorizes virtual charter schools. It provides that home-schooled students may enroll in courses offered by the Florida Virtual School or a franchisee, and provides that home-schooled students may enroll in courses offered in the school district in which the student resides. The bill requires that high school students take at least one virtual course. The bill had its first reading by the House on 1st Reading on March 02, 2010. No action this week.
HOUSE 1319 (by Tom Grady, R-Naples) would make historic reductions in pensions provided under the Florida Retirement System. New employees or employees entering DROP would be required to contribute 1% of their salary to FRS. For all current employees, pension benefits would be calculated on a total career average instead of the current five-highest-year average, reducing most pensions amounts by 40% to 50%. For all current employees, the retirement age would increase from the current 30 years to 33 years, or from age 62 to 65. For all current employees, the annual accrual rate would be reduced from the current 16% per year to 1.44% per year. Several other provisions have the similar effect of significantly reducing pension benefit for current employees. The bill will be considered by the House Governmental Affairs Policy Committee next week.
SENATE 1344 (by Evelyn Lynn, R-Daytona Beach) would increase eligibility requirements for the Florida Bright Futures scholarship program and reduce the award amount by about 10%. On March 19, the bill was approved by the Senate Higher Education Appropriates Committee by a 4-1 vote.
SENATE 1368 (by Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville) This bill addresses numerous issues. Notably, this bill would have the constitutional class size calculations be based on February reporting rather than October, and increase the fiscal penalty for non-compliance to include the base student allocation in addition to the class size allocation for all students over the constitutional limits. The bill specifies that the class size limits do apply to charter schools but do not apply to virtual classrooms. It lowers the administrative fees school districts may charge to charter schools. This bill would equire that all high school materials be primarily adopted and delivered in electronic format. The bill increases VPK class size from 10 to 12. This bill would have school districts contract with community colleges to provide high school students access to Florida college courses to be delivered virtually. It removes the requirement for a state board rule establishing the minimum length of a school year. The bill lowers bonuses paid for IB, AICE, and AP examinations. It requires, in effect, that school board member salaries be the same level as the salaries of legislators. It freezes the salaries of elected superintendents and encourages that the salaries of appointed superintendents also be frozen. On March 19, it passed the Senate Education PK-12 Committee by a 4-1 vote.
HOUSE 1543 (by Juan Zapata, R-Miami) would make historic reductions in pensions provided under the Florida Retirement System. The bill would collaps the current five plans to two and would limit pensions benefits to no more than 70% of the highest single year's salary. The bill will be considered by the House Governmental Affairs Policy Committee next week.
SENATE 1902 (by Michael Bennett, R-Bradenton) would make historical reductions in pensions provided under the Florida Retirement System. For retirements beginning ater July 1, 2010, The bill would limit pensions benefits to no more than 70% of the final average compensation. The bill will be considered by the House Community Affairs Committee next week.
SENATE 2126 (by Joe Negron, R-Palm City and 18 others) would expand Florida's private school voucher program, currently funded by corporate tax credits. The bill would increase the per-student amount paid to private schools from the current $3,950 to an estimated $5,500, or a total cost of about $140 million. The The bill was approved by the Senate Finance and Tax Committe by 4-1 vote and now goes to the Senate Policy & Steering Committee on Ways and Means for action on March 20th.
SENATE 2262 (by John Thrasher, R-Jacksonville) authorizes charter schools to operate as franchises of the Florida Virtual School. It provides that home-schooled students may enroll in courses offered by the Florida Virtual School or a franchisee, and provides that home-schooled students may enroll in courses offered in the school district in which the student resides. The bill requires that high school students take at least one virtual course. No action this week.
HOUSE 5101 (by Anitere Flores, R-Miami and 13 others) addresses multiple topics. It requires school districts to make contingency plans for class size compliance pending the outcome of the proposed November 2010 constitutional amendment. This bill would have the constitutional class size calculations be based on February reporting rather than October, and increase the fiscal penalty for non-compliance to include the base student allocation in addition to the class size allocation for all students over the constitutional limits. It requires detailed reported on the education of gifted students. This bill would equire that all high school materials be primarily adopted and delivered in electronic format and promotes adoption of electronic learning management systems. The bill will be considered by the Full Appropriations Council on Education & Economic Development today.
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WHITE HOUSE RELEASES BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEW ESEA
The President's "blueprint" for the reauthorization of ESEA was released this week. As expected, the President intends to reframe the existing No Child Left Behind paradigm rather than scrap it altogether. This blueprint provides a vision for the reauthorization in mostly general terms, and gingerly avoids being too specific. The document explictly uses the priorities and language of Race to the Top and the Common Core Standards Initiative. As expected, there is a strong focus on identifying and rewarding "effective" teachers and on encouraging the proliferation of public charter schools. No surprises here, but it is the next step in the reauthorization and may be worth a look.
U.S. Department of Education (Web page)
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CONSIDERING THE IMPLICATIONS OF CITIZENS V. FEC ON THE NON-PROFIT WORLD
The recent controversial ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (PDF) held that "the Government may not suppress political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity." This historic ruling overturned numerous regulations on corporate participation in elections and affirmed that corporations have the same free speech rights as individuals. The implications for a special class of corporations—the not-for-profit kind—remain to be determined. Non-profit corporations are pervasive, well-known, and have long been influential in American life: consider the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Girls Scouts, the YMCA, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Education Testing Service (ETS), the local boards that run charter schools, and even local school district education foundations. Many benefits acrue to these organizations precisely because of their non-profit status, but will this change now that they are free to speak out and spend freely in political affairs? A new era in philanthropy and politics seems about to begin, and National Journal gives us a glimpse of what's to come.
National Journal (Web page)
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RUNNING THE NUMBERS
(1) Total assets held in trust for retirees of the Florida Retirement System: $96,503,161,626
(1) Total members currently enrolled in the Florida Retirement System: 668,416
(2) Percentage of FRS members who are employed by school districts: 49.22%
(1,2) Florida Retirement System Annual Report 2008-09 (PDF)
(3) OPPAGA Report Report No. 09-24 (PDF)