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

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Official PTA Advocacy Links

Florida PTA Advocacy Resources

National PTA Advocacy Resources

 

Public Education Advocacy Resources (not affiliated or supported by PTA):

Jacksonville Public Education Fund

Education Week

Alliance for Excellent Education

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

Advocacy News

Florida’s legislative session begins on March 5, 2019.  Your voice is your most powerful tool!  PTA encourages you to call or write your elected officials and let them know how you feel about legislation and policies that impact your child’s education.

Sign up for Florida PTA’s Take Action Network to learn more about legislative issues affecting families, schools, and communities and to stay informed on the latest updates from Tallahassee.

Duval County Public Schools Legislative Platform for 2019

Florida PTA’s Legislative Priorities for 2019

Bills to watch:

SB7030 – School Safety and Security aims to arm teachers – opposed by FL PTA

SB190 – Proposes to extend Bright Future Scholarships to Private School Students


School Safety

  • School Safety and Security – SB 7030

    • PCB by Education
    • Requires sheriffs to offer Guardian Program
    • Makes Commissioner of Ed oversee implementation of MSD Public Safety Act
  • Panic Alarms in public schools – SB 174
    • Creates panic alarms in every public elementary, middle, high school
    • No House companion yet
  • Possession of a Firearm on School Campus – HB 6005 Byrd
    • Allows possession of a firearm on school campus including parking lot
    • No Senate companion yet
  • Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons & Firearms – HB 6007 Sabatini
    • Removes provision prohibiting concealed carry licensees from openly carrying on to college/university campus
  • Safety of Religious Institutions – HB 403 Grall
    • Authorizes religious institutions to allow concealed weapons or firearms on property even with a school

Guns

  • Assault Weapons and Large-Capacity Magazines – HB 455 C. Smith
    • Creates ban on military style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines
    • SB 466 Farmer
  • Pub. Rec./Personal Identifying Information of Assault Weapon or Large-Capacity Magazine Possession Certificate-holder – HB 553 C. Smith
    • Makes it illegal to transfer or sell military style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines
    • SB 500 Stewart
  • Transfer of Firearms – HB 135 Good
    • Requires transfers of firearms when neither party is licensed dealer to be conducted through licensed dealer & requires processing by licensed dealer
  • Regulation of Concealed Weapons Licenses – SB 108 Book
    • Moves concealed weapons licenses from Dept. of Agriculture to FDLE
  • Firearms – SB 595 Albritton
    • Allows for concealed carry licensees to carry on religious properties including those with schools on their campus

Education

  • Apprenticeship Programs – HB 367 Donalds
    • Similar to the bill filed last year by Ascencio
    • Increases CTE opportunities including Apprenticeship Grant programs
    • SB 522 Diaz
  • Study of Bible and Religion – HB 195 Daniels
    • Requires schools districts to offer as an elective
    • Course would include religion, Hebrew Scriptures, & Bible
    • No Senate companion yet

Health & Safety

  • Use of Wireless Communications Devices while Driving – HB 107 Toledo/Slosbeg
    • Creates hands-free driving
    • Devices can’t be in hand for any reason
    • SB 76 Simpson (incoming President)
  • Prohibited Discrimination – HB 485 Webb
    • Makes illegal discrimination based on gender & sexual orientation
    • Revises Florida’s Civil Rights Act of 1992
    • SB 430 Rouson
  • Childcare Facilities – SB 94 Stewart
    • Requiring vehicles used by childcare facilities used to transport children to be equipped with alarm system to alert driver to inspect vehicle for children prior to exiting the vehicle.
    • HB 69 Antone is identical
  • Sexual Battery Prosecution Time Limitation – SB 130 Stewart
    • Provides exception of general time limitations for prosecution of sexual battery offenses of minors at the time the offense occurred
    • HB 395 Eskamani identical
  • Improper Restraints – HB 179 Byrd
    • Expands list of incidents or injuries that constitute harm to a child to include violations of child restraint and seatbelt requirements
    • Requires central abuse hotline to accept out of state calls
    • SB 128 Bean

Juvenile Justice

  • Youth in Solitary Confinement – SB 110 Thurston
    • Creates Youth in Solitary Confinement Reduction Act
    • Prohibits from subject youth to solitary confinement except under circumstances
    • Requires time in intervals with mental health clinician
    • HB 499 Brown

Find your elected officials

Response to the Proposed Regulations and Down Syndrome By August 1

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

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NDSC – NDSS Action Alert

July 19, 2016

Your Action Needed on Proposed Federal Accountability Regulations for ESSA:
SUBMIT COMMENTS BY AUGUST 1

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
800.232.6372
ndsccenter.org

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