Florida Legislative PTA News Update March 1, 2017

We are less than a week away from the start of the Legislative Session.  The following is a synopsis of what happened in Tallahassee last week:

HB78- Recess Bill – the bill passed unanimously through the Senate Education Committee.  The next committee of reference is the Appropriations Subcommittee on Pre-K-12 Education.  Florida PTA participated in a press conference along with Senator Flores and Representative Plasencia discussing the importance of recess for elementary students.
HB 7027 – began as a committee bill and is a memorial urging the Federal Government to establish block grants for Title 1 and IDEA funding.  The block grant would give control to the state on how to disperse these funds.  It passed through committee.  This bill is just a memorial and does not change any statutory language.
SB 376 – Charter School Funding – Authorizing school boards to levy specified amounts for charter schools; providing that charter school capital outlay funding consists of shared local capital outlay and state funding as provided in the General Appropriations Act; prohibiting a charter school from being eligible for a funding allocation under certain circumstances.  This bill will require school districts to share local capital outlay dollars with charter schools.  Currently, charter schools receive $75 million PECO dollars for their capital needs.  It passed through the Education Committee.
SB604 – Education Funding – Revising the amount each school board may levy for certain purposes; revising the purposes for which a school district may levy additional millage by specified means to include fixed capital outlay.  Senator Farmer filed an amendment which would allow school districts to levy up to a 2.25 millage rate.  The amendment was adopted but the bill was temporarily postponed to amend this language into SB376.
SB1334 – Universal background checks – this bill will close the gun show loop hole and require that any person purchasing a gun from a private seller be subjected to a background check and the 3-day mandatory waiting period. This a Florida PTA priority and we will be participating in a press conference next week asking Florida Legislature for their support of this bill.
Federal bills:
We have received a few emails regarding H.R. 610, also called the “Choices in Education Act of 2017”, which would repeal every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and replace it with block grants for states to use for a voucher system. The bill also repeals a rule issued by the Department of Agriculture which would roll back school nutrition standards in schools if passed.
National PTA is monitoring the bill and will issue a statement if the bill moves forward.

2017 Florida PTA Legislative Conference

Florida PTA has an amazing legacy of advocacy. This year’s “LegCon” attendees will celebrate the dedication of thousands of child advocates across Florida whose efforts work to make every child’s potential a reality. The 2017 Florida PTA LegCon will feature workshops on key education issues facing the Legislature, with discussions and trainings on how PTA advocates can shape public policy at home and in Tallahassee in 2017 and in the years to come. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to celebrate with PTA members statewide!
Registration Fee:  $55 per adult; $25 per student. For more information, click here.
When: Sunday March 26, 2017 at 7:00 PM EDT -to- Tuesday March 28, 2017 at 12:00 PM EDT  Add to Calendar
Where: Tallahassee Center Conf Room,215 W. College Avenue,Tallahassee, FL 32301  Driving Directions

Stepping Up: Florida’s Civil Citation Efforts 2016 Report

Contact Information: Ms. Cindy Gerhardt, President, president@floridapta.org,407-855-7604, FAX 407-240-9577, www.floridapta.orgFLPTA logo

September 14, 2016

PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy group in the nation. PTA’s mission is to make every child’s potential a reality, by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.  “All children” includes those who are displaced, are in foster care or who find themselves in the Juvenile Justice system.
PTA has long advocated for policies that would protect the rights of children and youth who come into contact with the Juvenile Justice System. Beginning in 1899, PTA was one of the first associations to encourage federal and state lawmakers to create a safe and rehabilitative justice system for children by establishing separate courts and probation systems from those serving adults. Today, PTA continues to support programs that work to prevent juvenile delinquency and provide youth currently in the system with services to help them become productive members of society.
PTA also monitors, supports, and advocates for laws and programs that:
  • Promote initiatives to address racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities in the juvenile justice system.
  • Include evidence-based family engagement strategies in juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs.
  • Incentivize community, school and family-focused interventions for status offenses, such as breaking curfew.
  • Promote alternative dispute resolution techniques that provide a range of possible sanctions.
  • Support programs that continue a child’s education while detained and allows for a smooth transition back to the classroom and their community.
  • Support research and data collection regarding youth offenses.
As has been a priority for more than one hundred years, PTA remains deeply committed to working with decision makers to advocate for safe and supportive juvenile justice systems that help every child reach his or her full potential.
It makes sound sense that we provide a better option and outcome for youth who commit misdemeanor offenses and who have the ability and desire to rehabilitate.  Arrest should not be the first answer; incarceration should be a last resort.  This data clearly shows that the use of civil citations increases public safety, saves taxpayer money, and improves youth outcomes.  The data is startling and statistics clearly show that not only is this a logical option for communities, but offers a cost savings over incarceration that can free up more revenue for education.  What district and school could not benefit from more resources to get ahead of these issues and find means of prevention, rather than be reactive to the problem with an answer that promotes recidivism among our youth? The ability to issue civil citations, evaluate a child’s living environment and offer service to the community is by far a more valuable investment in our children and will benefit our state long term. This program promotes public safety and its success will rely on participation throughout the state.
Florida PTA is proud to support this important study and we will continue to work to bring awareness to the use of civil citations instead of arresting thousands of youth across the state of Florida. We will remain committed to finding and promoting better ways to keep communities safer, families stronger and children protected.
For more information, please contact info@floridapta.org or call 407-855-7604.
Florida PTA comprises hundreds of thousands of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to improving the lives of children/youth in our state. PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in the state of Florida, as well as the nation. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children. More information is available by contacting Florida PTA (407/855-7604 or executive.director@floridapta.org).
For more information visit our website www.floridapta.org and/or our Facebook page for programs available in your community.

Advocacy Resources

Advocacy croppedAdvocacy Improves the Lives of Children

Federal law requires equal opportunities for all children.  But with only 3 of the federal budget dedicated to education, the reality is that too many students go without.

PTA is committed to ensuring that parents have a seat at the table whenever decisions are made that impact our children-at local school boards, in local and state government and in the halls of Congress. PTA fights for your child and every child.

There is power in our voices.

Links to organizations that are related to education in government.  DCCPTA provides these resources to give you different political points of view and does not necessarily support or endorse there opinions.

Alliance for Excellent Education

Education Week

Jacksonville Public Education Fund

Response to the Proposed Regulations and Down Syndrome By August 1

Subject: NDSC/NDSS Action Alert: Submit Comments on ESSA

 NDSC Logo

NDSC – NDSS Action Alert

July 19, 2016

Your Action Needed on Proposed Federal Accountability Regulations for ESSA:

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has published proposed regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which address the area of accountability – that is, how States and local education agencies (e.g. school districts) will report the academic performance of all students and be held accountable to improve the performance of students who are not making sufficient progress on the grade-level State academic content standards. Groups and individuals are invited to submit public comments on the proposed regulations, which ED will use to complete the final accountability regulations.

The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) has submitted extensive comments in response to the proposed accountability regulations, and the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is supporting these comments. We request that you submit your own comments by the August 1 deadline so that the voices of the Down syndrome community are heard loud and clear.

Why is it important to submit comments?

This set of proposed regulations addresses how ESSA implementation plans and report cards at the State and local education agency (LEA) levels must be developed in order to hold schools and LEAs accountable for the achievement of all students, including students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. States must use ESSA funding in a way that is consistent with the law’s purpose: “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.” The language about academic expectations for students with disabilities in ESSA is very strong and can be used to improve implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), if the federal regulations help focus States and LEAs on their responsibilities to these students.

National organizations representing teachers unions, school boards, administrators, and superintendents are encouraging their members to fight against the strong accountability regulations that we want. It is important that OUR voices are heard from the other side!

How and where to submit comments

The due date for public comments is August 1, 2016. NDSC and NDSS are asking you to submit comments to ED that support the NDSC comments. The Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is here. Underneath the title of the NPRM, to the right, there is a green box that says “Submit Formal Comments.” Click on this box to get to the comment form.

How detailed do you need to get in your comments?

It is entirely up to you. We realize that these issues are complicated, and not everyone is comfortable going into extensive detail. At a minimum, we encourage you to express support for NDSC’s comments in a few simple sentences. Here is an example:

My name is Alex Jones, and I am the father of a 3rd grade student with Down syndrome in Cleveland, Ohio. I fully support the comments submitted by the National Down Syndrome Congress as they align with ESSA’s purpose: “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.” I want local and state education agencies to be held accountable for my child’s progress. Thank you for your consideration!

Additional items to address in your comments

In addition to expressing support for the NDSC comments, you may also want to thank ED for the many proposed regulations that support strong accountability and make a specific request for one or more of the most important changes that are needed in the final regulations, which are listed below. NDSC’s recommendations for these changes, including the context, are described in the Summary of the NDSC Accountability Regulation Comments here. These nine recommendations and many other critically important comments and recommendations can be found in the full text of the NDSC Comments on the Accountability NPRN here

The final accountability regulations should include:

  • Alternate Achievement Standards – a clear link between alternate assessments and enrolled grade content in any reference to achievement standards
  • Meaningful stakeholder consultation – a requirement for membership from the disability community on State and LEA plan development committees and outreach to disability groups regarding other stakeholder input opportunities
  • Consistently underperforming subgroups – a requirement that States use a definition for “consistently underperforming subgroup” that keeps the bar for achievement high, is not based on a comparison to other students, and has a two-year time frame
  • Transition from targeted to comprehensive support and improvement – a change to the regulations that will require, or at least encourage, States to identify schools with consistently underperforming subgroups for comprehensive support and improvement after three years, instead of keeping them indefinitely in targeted support and improvement
  • Funding for support and improvement – a better balance in the funding levels that schools get when they are identified for targeted support and improvement as compared to the much larger amount schools get when they are identified for comprehensive support and improvement
  • 95% participation rate rule for assessments – options for how States can factor in a failure to meet the 95% participation rate requirement that are stronger than most of those in the proposed regulations
  • Minimum subgroup size (n-size) – a requirement that States must justify their n-size if it will be greater than 10 to help ensure that schools have to count their disability subgroup unless it has fewer than 10 students with disabilities.
  • Diploma definition – clarification that a diploma based on a student meeting his or her IEP goals, will not be considered a regular high school diploma, even if those goals are based on the grade-level State content standards
  • Segregation of students with disabilities – the addition of “the segregation of students with disabilities in separate classes and schools” to the list of school practices that should be reduced in order to improve school environments and post-school outcomes

Want to impact the development of your State’s ESSA plan?

NDSC has developed a State Plan Advocacy Guide to help parents make detailed recommendations on their State ESSA plan. You can find the guide here.

Please contact Ricki Sabia (ricki@ndsccenter.org) or Heather Sachs (hsachs@ndss.org) with questions. We encourage you to drop us a quick email and let us know when you submit comments so that we can be sure to thank you for your efforts!

Recognizing the importance of education policy and how it will affect our constituents, you may receive informational emails, called Education Alerts, and Action Alerts from both the NDSC and NDSS. Our two organizations are committed to working together on education issues, including ESSA implementation, IDEA-related issues, and other education matters. NDSC’s Senior Education Policy Advisor, Ricki Sabia, will lead this collaboration, and will work closely with Heather Sachs, NDSS Vice President of Advocacy & Public Policy, coordinating education policy strategy to best serve the entire Down syndrome community.

Capitol Steps

Our Contact Information
National Down Syndrome Congress
30 Mansell Court, Suite 108
Roswell, GA 30076

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The Florida State Standards (Common Core)

Feb 18, 2014

Read the article from State Impact Florida and NPR HERE.

March 9, 2015

Following are the front and back side of a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet handed out at an FSA information session for parents at a DCPS elementary school.  These are common questions parents of students in any grade might have; if you have additional questions specific to your student’s grade or subject, please contact your school.

FSA Questions page 1      FSA Questions page 2

January 13, 2015

This article explores options to replace our current “high stakes” tests.


November 7, 2014

On November 4, 2014 Dr. Vitti distributed to principals a 10-page presentation outlining the differences between how the old Sunshine State Standards were tested using the FCAT and how the new Florida State Standards (Florida’s version of the Common Core Standards) will be tested with the new AIR assessments in the Spring.

The presentation also includes before and after test data from Kentucky (the whole state); Jefferson County, KY; New York State and New York City. There were dramatic declines in all grades and subjects in all 4 geographic areas.

Dr. Vitti asked Principals to make their parents aware of this data, but NOT to panic about how our students are going to do. His opinion was also that the New York standards and tests were slightly more rigorous overall than Florida’s and that Kentucky’s were overall a little less rigorous – so hopefully our students will fall somewhere between the two.

It’s important to know also that we still have no idea what Florida’s tests are going to look like, AND that Florida’s tests are not going to look like any other state’s in the country since Florida chose AIR to produce our tests instead of the PARCC or Smarter Balanced tests 39 other states are using.

Impact of New Standards

Jacksonville_dot_com article on AIR tests

October 8, 2014

Florida PTA Requests Changes Sept 17 2014  FLPTA requests delay in school grades for one year.

Duval County School Board Resolution on Transition Year – requesting FL DOE delay school grades for one year. (Adopted Tuesday, October 7, 2014)

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was a multi-state-led effort to develop consistent, real-world learning goals to ensure all students, regardless of where they live, graduate high school prepared for college, career, and life. The standards do not dictate curriculum. Curricula is left to states, school districts and teachers to determine HOW the standards will be taught.

Each state decided how best to implement the blueprint of the standards in their state.  The Florida Department of Education announced in January 2014 that Florida’s version of the Common Core Standards will be known as The Florida State Standards.  These standards REPLACE the Sunshine State Standards AND the FCAT.  Implementation of the Common Core Standards in all grades in Duval County schools is now complete for the 2014-15 school year.

National PTA has developed guides to help parents understand how these standards will affect their student. Parents’ Guides to Student Success

PTA’s Position Statement on High Stakes Testing

ASSESSMENT AND TESTING (2006) National PTA believes that valid assessment does not consist of only a single test
score, and that at no time should a single test be considered the sole determinant of a student’s academic or work

Handouts and flyers you can use to educate your school’s parents:

Jacksonville Public Education Fund
CCSS Handout      (developed by DCCPTA)

These are websites that provide background on the origins of Common Core, Frequently Asked Questions, and additional resources for parents:


Myths vs. Facts

DCCPTA’s own website has Common Core information:  http://www.dccpta.org/advocacy/

National PTA’s webpage with links to Common Core information for each state.

 August 20, 2014

Common Core Prepares Students for College, Career
Watch “Raising the Bar: Implications on Test Scores” a short video of school administrators and teachers discuss how common Core helps to improve a student’s college and career readiness.National PTA recently released a Common Core video series to educate parents on the standards and empower them to support the transition at school and home.The series features 14 videos—developed in partnership with the Hunt Institute—to dispel the myths and provide accurate information about Common Core.Watch the series at PTA.org/CCSSVideos.For more info, visit our Common Core website or contact Chrystal Jones.

The Common Core FAQ,    National Public Radio   May 27, 2014

State Impact Florida’s “Essential Guide to Common Core”

The State of Florida’s official source for standards information, course descriptions and standards resources is CPALMS. (CPALMS is an online toolbox of information, vetted resources, and interactive tools that helps educators effectively implement teaching standards.)

Florida Standards Assessment website – Resources for Parents and Students

Following are recent articles about Common Core and the implementation of the standards here in Florida.

PDK/Gallup Poll Finds Rising Awareness, Majority Opposition to Common Core    August 20, 2014

Bush: Florida Standards “Not Substantially Different” From Common Core    August 15, 2014

Despite All The Conspiracy Theories, Common Core Is Actually Just Boring    August 14, 2014

Crist Wants To Pause Penalties During Switch To Common Core-Based Standards   August 7, 2014

What We Learned This Year Watching Schools Prepare For Florida’s New Standards     July 10, 2014

Read the Federal Plan to Expand Wireless Internet Access at Schools (and Libraries)   July 10, 2014

More Common Core Silliness   June 11, 2014

What A Florida Middle School Has Learned So Far Teaching Common Core Standards   March 10, 2014.

Everything you need to know about Common Core – Ravitch    Washington Post, January 18, 2014

Five myths about the Common Core    December 13, 2013

PTA Position Statements

National PTA’s Diversity and Inclusion Policy:


Click HERE to connect to Florida PTA’s CURRENT Position Statements on a variety of issues from High Stakes Testing to Class Size to Arts in Education.

Click HERE to connect to Florida PTA’s HISTORICAL Position Statements.