House Dems: Education Bill Would Further Erode State Public School System

Jan 30, 2018

House Democrats are crying foul over a massive education bill they say would further erode the state’s public school system. 

Joined by other Florida House Democrats, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) speaks at a press conference on higher education and House Bill 7055.
Credit Davondra Alston / WFSU

Democratic representatives say that House Bill 7055 would further loosen regulations for charter schools. American Federation of Teachers Vice President Fedrick Ingram says the bill is an attempt to hurt the public school system.

“We’re trying to do everything that we can stop 7055, because it has many different provisions. It is a bill that’s packed with a whole bunch of things we don’t believe that will help student success," he claims.

The bill allows charter schools deemed high performing to replicate more schools in the same district. Principals could manage multiple schools, an expansion of the current Principal Autonomy Pilot Program Initiative. 

“If they find a principal, who has that talent and that ability it’s exactly what we want and what we intended is," Rep. Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah) says,  "for them to have the option to have that principal spread their knowledge and develop of other principals.”

The bill would allow parents to receive a $400 scholarship assistance for kids that struggle with reading assessments in the third grade. Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) says the extra assistance is a great idea, but is concerned about how the money would be distributed through scholarship programs.

Jones says, “And that goes into the parent’s pocket. You don’t know where that money is being spent and if that parent is doing the right thing with those dollars. I would definitely recommend that we look at that and tighten that language up. Considering that the tax plan is new, maybe we shouldn’t include that in there right now."

House Democrats argue the bill is too broad and disorganized; supporters say it gives districts and parents choice.