This week, the Florida Legislature wrapped up voting on a number of new educational reforms within the state. These new laws included expansion of the state’s school choice laws, new regulations for teacher’s unions and several other measures.
The most widely reported law had to do with expanding the state’s school voucher program to those who are being bullied in their present school. Any student that has been bullied can either receive a voucher to go to a different public school, or they can receive a Hope Scholarship to attend a private school in the state. This new program will cost $41 million dollars. Florida already has one of the most extensive school choice programs in the United States which costs the state roughly $1 billion per year.
The Legislature also passed a measure directed at the teacher’s union. According to this new law, a new election would have to held to re-certify a teacher’s union in a school anytime that less than 50 percent of teachers in that school stopped paying their union dues.
In another measure, lawmakers made it a requirement that all schools in the state had to display the words “In God We Trust” somewhere prominently within the school. The lawmakers also added requirements that schools provide tutoring assistance free of charge to certain students. Any student that performed below standard on reading tests administered to all students in the third grade would be eligible for assistance.
Finally, the lawmakers expanded scholarships for college students. Students can now receive up to 100 percent funding if they meet the requirement of the Bright Futures scholarship program.