It all started when Gov. Rick Scott traveled around the state late last year on what he called his education listening tour. He said, he heard at school after school, teachers and principals felt burdened by paperwork
“Last year, I organized a group of superintendents to find all their ideas of how we can eliminate regulations, eliminate rules, that are impacting teachers’ time in the classroom,” he said on Monday.
Scott signed a bill that incorporated many ideas he got from his panel of seven superintendents, plus from surveys of the state’s 60 other superintendents. Volusia County Schools Superintendent Margaret Smith attended the bill signing.
She said, “I want to commend the governor for listening to superintendents, for reaching out to schools and for supporting education. It is, as I said, truly appreciated.”
The measure removes reporting requirements for things like participation in county recycling programs. It also removes a requirement that the Department of Education should monitor schools’ paper use and data collection and report its recommendations. Ironically, legislative staff analysis of that requirement showed it actually created more paperwork within the department.
The bill also eliminates requirements for districts to create policies that are redundant with federal requirements. And it axes several programs that were insufficiently funded or simply not used, including a scholarship for minority students to attend medical school.
The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Bill Montford (D-Apalachicola) said, all of the state’s students owe the governor a thank you.
“This bill reduces the paperwork, it removes bills, statutes, rules and regulations that are not needed, but most importantly, it gives teachers and principals and others at the school level more time to work with their students, more time to focus on what’s really important, and that is the needs of our young people throughout Florida,” Montford said.
Florida ranks No. 6 in the nation for overall student achievement, and since he took office recently, State Commissioner of Education, Tony Bennett, has said he’s committed to making the state No. 1. He said, removing regulations from school districts is an important step in improving the quality of education.
“Florida leads the country in an environment of choice for families and how they choose the education for their children. Florida leads the country in accountability of its education system. And if you have those two factors, you have to have a climate of freedom for school districts to operate,” Bennett said.
The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach). It passed unanimously in both chambers.