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Get Involved by Staying Informed

Each legislative session FEA's Frontline Report helps local leaders, members and education activists stay up-to-date on what's happening at the Capitol concerning public education — and how these policy changes could affect our students and our neighborhood public schools. NEW this session, the Frontline Report is available as a regularly-updated blog. Follow along or sign-up for our weekly email recap.

Frontline Blog

Thousands stand up for neighborhood public schools, students and educators

Who says Florida’s neighborhood public schools need better funding? The people do.

Time and again, this state’s electorate has demonstrated broad, bipartisan consensus on the need to invest in our neighborhood public schools, our students and educators.

But to make improved funding happen, the Legislature must act. On April 23, the Florida Education Association (FEA) presented nearly 25,000 more reasons for state lawmakers to properly fund our schools.

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TAKE ACTION NOW: Budget Allocations are Being Discussed tonight!

We’ve reached the final 10 days of the 2019 legislative session, and that means budget conferences have begun and they will move quickly!

It is vitally important that members of the committee hear from you about the need to fund the base student allocation. These are the funds that can be negotiated at the local level to improve your salary and offset healthcare expenses!

The Appropriations Conference Committee on Education–which has an allocation of $12.8 billion–will have its first meeting tonight and must have their work completed by Thursday evening. So, please take action right now!

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Let’s Talk About the “Waiting List”

During the first half of the 2019 legislative session the Florida House and Senate have both spent a significant time debating similar bills which would greatly expand vouchers for unaccountable private and religious schools. The House is poised to pass their voucher bill later this week.

One of the most often repeated talking points used by legislators, as well as Governor DeSantis is the need to reduce the “waiting list” for students who use vouchers. So, it is worth asking who is on the “waiting list” and why?

The short answer is we don’t know who or even how many students are on the waiting list.

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Week 5: We’ve reached the midpoint of session!

We’ve reached the midway point of the 2019 legislative session. Things will really start to ramp up, and your voice is needed now more than ever.

Below is a brief overview of what’s happening this week in Tallahassee that could impact you:

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A Glance at the Week Ahead

The fourth week of the 2019 legislative session is underway. Below is a quick recap of what you can anticipate through Wednesday of this week.

Today, March 25

  • 3:30pm House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will take up HB 7061 on Teacher Preparation. This bill would, among other things, allow school boards to permit a teacher to continue teaching even if they can’t pass the certification exam. 

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United Faculty of Florida Legislative Update #3

Here’s an update on the third week of the 2019 legislative session from UFF Executive Director Marshall Ogletree:

House and Senate Higher Education Chair Budget Proposals

This week Senate Education Appropriations Chair Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) released the first salvo of budget proposals this week. Highlights gleaned from these proposals are as follows.

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Best and Brightest Changes

Again this year, both chambers of the state legislature are looking to make changes to the “Best and Brightest” program. The proposals are significantly different from one another, but do have three similarities:

  1. Both the House and Senate proposals remove the SAT/ACT requirement
  2. Both proposals put the Best and Brightest funding into the FEFP
  3. Both proposals limit the awards to K-12 classroom teachers as defined in F.S. 1012.01 (2)(a):

Classroom teachers are staff members assigned the professional activity of instructing students in courses in classroom situations, including basic instruction, exceptional student education, career education, and adult education, including substitute teachers.

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SB 7070 Advances Through Another Committee

Senate Bill 7070  is a bill that should concern every citizen in Florida. As Senator Montford said in today’s Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee meeting, if this bill passes it will “fundamentally change” education in the state.

The bill includes the creation of Florida’s seventh voucher program—but this one is different from the rest because instead of being funded through “tax credits,” the vouchers would be funded directly from the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) meaning public school dollars would be funneled to unaccountable, private and religious schools.

SB 7070 also revises Best and Brightest. It would remove the requirement for SAT or ACT scores, but the program remains discriminatory. The bonuses would still not be available for our hard-working education staff professionals. Nor are the bonuses available for pre-kindergarten teachers or instructional personnel at any level other than classroom teachers.

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State Board Listens to Educators and Lowers Fees!

Thanks to the State Board of Education and the diligent advocacy of our members and staff, many educators will soon pay less to take or retake Florida Teacher Certification Exams.

At its meeting in Tallahassee on Tuesday, the State Board of Education approved a rule change that reduces fees for re-taking tests, prorates fees for multi-part exams such as the General Knowledge test, and lowers fees overall for subject-area tests.

Under the new fee schedule, a teacher retaking a single subtest in the General Knowledge Test will pay $32.50 instead of $150. Find the new fees here.

We spoke up, and the Florida Department of Education listened.

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Budget Time in the Legislature

You’ve heard the statistics—Florida consistently ranks in the bottom five states nation-wide for educator salary and per-pupil funding.

Class sizes continue to escalate—as do health insurance costs. Meanwhile salaries are stagnant, school buildings are in disrepair, and every year teachers and education staff professionals are simply asked to do more with less.

The evidence of Florida’s underfunding of public education is all around you.

This is why it is vitally important that all members of the Florida Education Association are aware of how the state’s budget is determined and what you can do to fight for your students, your school, and yourself.

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Get Involved by Staying Informed