Advocacy Briefing March 2022
Hello Florida PTA Family,

The Legislative Session has ended but our advocacy efforts never do! Our team remains hard at work advocating for ALL Children with our united PTA Voice.

A note of thanks to our entire Legislative Team for all of their hard work throughout Committee Weeks and the Legislative Session including our annual LegCon event. We will continue to use our united PTA Voice to make a difference for ALL Children!


Wishing you all well,
Jennifer "Jen" Martinez
Florida PTA President
Overview from this Legislative Session
The 2022 Legislative Session is officially over. If you see any of these members, please thank them for
their service and hard work over the past 2 years: Chair Karen Mazzola, Vice-Chair Lawrence Clermont, and members: Emmit Allen, Damaris Allen Bridges, Dr. Nancy Lawther, Dannie McMillon, Katie Murphy, Eric Stern, Dawn Steward, Edeline Theophile-Joseph, Brita Wilkins Lincoln as well as President Elect Carolyn Nelson-Goedert.

 

SESSION STATS:
7 TOTAL SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTIONS, JOINT RESOLUTIONS AND MEMORIALS FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE
177 TOTAL SENATE BILLS PASSED BY THE SENATE
172 TOTAL HOUSE BILLS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
149 TOTAL SENATE BILLS PASSED BY THE HOUSE AND SENATE
136 TOTAL HOUSE BILLS PASSED BY THE HOUSE AND SENATE 

 
PTA related:

BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW BY THE GOVERNOR
 
SB 1054 Financial Literacy Instruction in Public Schools
PTA supported this bill based on a NPTA resolution for an increased emphasis on the teaching of science, mathematics, and technology to assure that all youth acquire the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a global economy.
 
SB 1048 Student Assessments [3x Yearly Progress Monitoring]
PTA remained neutral and spoke for information only as this bill moved forward since our position statements favor formative testing like progress monitoring but advocate against the high states testing that this bill perpetuates and expands. We likewise advocated for native language testing for EL students based on our position statement to that effect.**See article below.
 
BILLS SENT TO THE GOVERNOR; He has until Wednesday, April 6, 2022 to act.
 
HB 173 Care of Students with Epilepsy or Seizure Disorders
PTA supported this bill, which provides for care in the IEP plan, pursuant to our statement addressing comprehensive health services for children.

HB 235 Restraint of Students with Disabilities in Public Schools
PTA supported this bill based on our position statement providing that the use of restraint and seclusion practices shall only be used as a last resort.
 
SB 1467 K-12 Education [Book banning]
PTA opposed this bill, which imposes costly and burdensome additional requirements on school districts for the selection and adoption of classroom and media center materials, based on NPTA resolutions addressing libraries & educational materials and inclusive curricula.**See article below.
 
 
BILLS THAT HAVE PASSED BOTH CHAMBERS AND MAY NOW BE SENT TO THE GOVERNOR
 
HB 7 Individual Freedom [aka the “Stop Woke Act”]
PTA opposed this bill pursuant to National PTA’s position statements on Systemic or Institutional Racism and on Inclusive Curricula in K-12 Education.**See article below.
 
HB 105 Regulation of Smoking by Counties and Municipalities
PTA supported this bill as it goes to the overall health of a child to restrict smoking within the boundaries of public beaches and public parks.
 
HB 195 Juvenile Diversion Program Expunction
PTA supported this bill because we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential—even if they make a mistake. This bill provides for certain juvenile arrest records to be legally shielded upon completion of a diversion program.**See article below.
 
HB 197 Public Records/Nonjudicial Record of the Arrest of a Minor
PTA supported this bill because we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential—even if they make a mistake. This bill provides for those certain juvenile arrest records to be withheld from public scrutiny upon completion of diversion and expunction.**See article below.
 
HB 225 Charter School Charters
PTA was neutral as to this bill in that our position statement on charter schools is mute on the issue of turn-around time for consideration of requests for charter school consolidation or changes in the terms of charter school contracts.
 
SB 236 Children with Developmental Delays
PTA supported this bill which expanded the eligibility criteria of students qualifying for services, thereby allowing more children to reach their potential.
 
SB 292 Newborn Screenings
PTA supported this bill based on our resolution to promote services for individuals and families to address infant and maternal mortality. The bill provided for an additional screening for congenital cytomegalovirus.
 
SB 430 Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children
PTA supported this bill pursuant to a NPTA Resolution recommending the adoption and utilization of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children by state and local education agencies.
 
HB 461 Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Student Service Requirements
PTA supported this bill based on a NPTA Resolution to promote increased student access to in-state tuition levels, which this bill does by allowing students to count a designated number of paid work hours as community service hours in qualifying for state post-secondary scholarships.
 
SB 638 Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program
PTA supported this bill based on a NPTA statement to support the integration of the arts in school curricula.
 
SB 722 Education for Student Inmates
PTA supported this bill to improve student inmate education based on NPTA resolutions on High School Graduation, College Preparation and Access and on Career and Technical Education.
 
SB 758 Education Charter School Authorizers
PTA opposed this bill as it creates a statewide charter school authorizer which runs counter to our position statement supporting school district authority and accountability.
 
HB 817 Emergency Medical Care and Treatment to Minors Without Parental Consent
PTA was neutral on the bill which authorizes physicians to provide emergency medical care or treatment to a minor without parental consent. Neither FLPTA nor NPTA has a resolution or position statement that addresses this matter.
 
HB 899 Mental Health of Students
PTA supported this bill, which requires charter schools as well as traditional public schools to collect data regarding involuntary examinations and which requires district school boards to designate a mental health coordinator, pursuant to our statement addressing comprehensive health services for children.
 
HB 1421 School Safety
PTA supported this bill that bill addressed frequency of drills, family reunification, suicide screening, and training for school safety officers consistent with our mission and purpose: to advocate for laws that further the education, physical and mental health, welfare, and safety of children and youth.
 
HB 1557 Parental Rights in Education [Don’t Say Gay]
PTA opposed this bill based on NPTA’s Resolution on Recognition of LGBTQ Individuals as a Protected Class, its Position Statement on Family Engagement, its Standard #4 = Speaking Up for Every Child and its Position Statement on Shared Responsibility in Educational Decision-Making. The bill prohibits discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3 and otherwise as age- or developmentally inappropriate and encourages dissatisfied parents to bring legal action against school districts rather than working cooperatively to iron out differences. **See article below.
 
HB 1577 Homeless Youth
PTA supported this bill, which provides comprehensive services necessary to guarantee equal educational opportunities for homeless students, based on the FLPTA Resolution to aid in the education of homeless children. This bill establishes liaisons to support youth experiencing homelessness in college and extends the Keys to Independence program to unaccompanied homeless youth.**See article below.
 
SB 1808 Immigration Enforcement
PTA opposed this bill based on our NPTA Position Statement on Rights and Services for Undocumented Children. This bill prohibits local and state governments from contracting with businesses that transport undocumented immigrants, even if those immigrants are children awaiting reunification with family members or with foster parents. **See article below.
 
If you have any questions about anything advocacy-related, please contact legislation@floridapta.org.
 
HB 7 Individual Freedom [Anti- Woke Act”]
 
PTA opposed this bill pursuant to National PTA’s position statements on Systemic or Institutional Racism and on Inclusive Curricula in K-12 Education. HB 7 prohibits critical race theory from being taught, regulates how Florida students and employees think about the role of race and racism in the country and gives employees of businesses an avenue to sue over workplace trainings that do the same. The measure is backed by the Governor. Critical race theory is not taught in public schools. Florida PTA worked with Equality Florida to urge legislators to oppose this bill.
 
HB 195 Juvenile Diversion Program Expunction &
HB 197 Pub. Rec./Nonjudicial Arrest Record of a Minor
 
Any criminal history record of a minor which is ordered expunged by a court must be physically destroyed and the person who is the subject of a criminal history record may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the arrests covered by the expunged record.
State law currently limits expungement to minors who complete a diversion program after a first-time misdemeanor arrest. Four years in the making, HB 195 would significantly expand expunction opportunities. Under the proposal, a minor may expunge most felonies especially those not found guilty of violent crimes or a “forcible felony.” The bill will allow juveniles to be provided a second chance. The public records bill, HB 197, provides an exemption from public records requirements for a nonjudicial record of the arrest of a minor who has successfully completed a diversion program. It provides for retroactive application. HB 195 must be signed into law for HB 197 to take effect.
According to a staff analysis, more than 26,000 juvenile offenders would benefit under the bill. Those offenders, proponents note, will have better job and educational opportunities without an arrest record. They would be able to say to a college recruiter, military recruiter, or employer that they have never been arrested for a crime. Arrests — even without a conviction — can make attending college, renting a home, and finding employment difficult. If signed by DeSantis, the bills will go into effect July 1, 2022. We are proud to have worked with the Juvenile Justice Association to support these bills.

No End Yet to High-Stakes Testing:
A Breakdown of This Year’s Legislation on Progress-Monitoring Assessments

On September 14, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a legislative proposal to “eliminate the common-core based, end-of-year, high-stakes Florida Statewide Assessment and create the new Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (F.A.S.T) plan, which will monitor student progress and foster individual growth.” On March 16, 2022, he signed CS/SB 1048 (Student Assessments) into law, as an initial step toward the fulfillment of his proposal.
 
Just what does SB 1048 entail? First, it is important to realize, it does not immediately reduce high-stakes testing. True, the FSA will disappear after this year, but in its place will be three new state-standardized computer-based progress-monitoring exams, the first administered in the fall, the second at mid-year, and the third and final at the end of the year. That end-of-year exam will have the same high-stakes consequences as the FSA and the previous FCAT and FCAT 2: third grade promotion, school grades, teacher compensation. Furthermore, current EOC exams will be unaffected; students will still need to take (and pass for high school graduation) the Algebra I test, and likewise take EOC exams in Civics, Geometry, Biology I and American History. A brand-new 12th-grade civics exam will likewise remain mandatory, although without adverse consequences. Such EOC exams are not federally mandated; federal law simply requires that students be tested in English/Language Arts and Mathematics every year in grades 3-10 and once for each grade span (3-5, 6-8, 9-12) in science.
 
On the positive side, the timeline for release of the new progress-monitoring assessment results will be shortened to one week for teachers and two weeks for parents for the first two exams; end-of-year results will be released by May 31. Moreover, SB 1048 requires the Commissioner of Education to provide, by January 31, 2025, recommendations regarding ways to streamline testing. Legislators have been particularly concerned about the amount of testing that is mandated by districts in addition to state assessments; given the high-stakes consequences of state exams, however, districts administer their own exams in self-defense to enhance their students’ chances on the state exams that impact their academic futures.
 
There is a lot we don’t know about the new progress-monitoring exams, which is why Florida PTA remained neutral on SB 1048 rather than expressing support or opposition to the bill. We don’t know how long the exams will be, or, given the required computer-based format, how much time will be taken from instruction to accommodate school testing capacity. We don’t know—and won’t know until after next year—what the cut scores will be on the end-of-year exams for student progress and school accountability purposes. We don’t know which company will be awarded a contract to create, field test, administer, and score the new exams. We don’t know if the Legislature will ever require state scholarship students, who receive state moneys for private school education, to take the new assessments so that parents can exercise school choice based on apples-to-apples student achievement comparisons.
 
National PTA has issued guidance on assessment that reads in part:
 
National PTA believes that high-quality assessments provide valuable information to parents, teachers and school leaders about the growth and achievement of their students. Assessment is a process of gathering information to guide educational decisions. A test is one tool that can be used in a comprehensive assessment system to evaluate and assess student growth and learning. National PTA also believes that neither one test, nor a single data point should ever be the sole determinant of a student’s academic or work future, such as graduation, admission, retention, or tracking.
 
Florida PTA will continue to monitor the implementation of SB 1048 and will keep you informed about any developments of note. Please feel free to reach out to us with your own questions, concerns, and observations at legislation@floridapta.org.
 
 
2022 Early Learning Legislation

The 2022 session reflected a huge bipartisan victory for Florida’s Early Learning Programs. The 2022 Legislature fully recognized the importance of addressing the needs of our children in the Early Learning arena.
The budget reflects much of the intent of Rep. Erin Grall’s HB 1199, Funding for School Readiness Program, which had numerous co-sponsors from both parties and passed the House unanimously. The measure sought to better align funding with the high cost of childcare by raising payment rates across the state, allow for higher teacher salaries and recruitment of additional high-quality providers to increase parent choice, and distribute funding more equitably across the state.
 
The base student allocation for VPK was increased by $317 per child, bringing it to the highest level in the program’s history and giving centers the resources to hire quality staff to collaborate with Florida’s next generation.
Senate President Wilton Simpson’s push for the minimum wage increase, $100 million of federal dollars is being directed to support per-child supplements for any VPK provider whose staff is all making at least $15 an hour.
The budget includes $156 million more for the School Readiness program, which provides subsidized, educational childcare for working parents.

School Safety HB 1421 awaits the Governor's signature

The measure, winning unanimous approval of both chambers, updates the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, which was passed in 2018 in the wake of the state’s worst school shooting and named for the Parkland high school where a shooting left 17 dead and 17 others hurt.
The update clarifies expectations for public and charter schools and requires new training for school safety officers.
The bill’s provisions are aimed at rectifying the difficulties that schools have had in complying with the previous act’s requirements. Some of the committee stops for the House bill included testimony that none of the state’s 67 school districts are in complete compliance with the state’s school safety rules passed in 2018.
Other provisions of the bill include:
— Having safe-school officers receive mental health crisis intervention training.
— Extending the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission’s term so it will continue overseeing the implementation of safety measures until 2026, moving it beyond the scheduled sunset date in 2023.
— Reporting school safety and environmental data in a uniform, easy-to-read format.
— Having the state Board of Education set the timing and frequency of emergency drills.
— Mandating schools’ plans to leverage the use of social media and other information systems, such as the attendance record of that day, to speed reunification of students with their parents if the school building is unexpectedly evacuated or closed because of an emergency.

HB 1467 - K-12 Education [Book banning]

A bill that opens elementary schools’ instructional materials to more public scrutiny requires all materials in use to be cataloged on a searchable list for online review. In addition, school districts would have to provide a public review process for the adoption of all materials as a separate line item on a board meeting agenda with “reasonable” opportunity for public comment.
 
The bill requires elementary schools to hire a media specialist to curate educational materials and library books. It also calls for school districts to report what materials and books draw public objections to the state Department of Education (DOE). The DOE would then publish that list for circulation.
 
PTA opposed this bill based on NPTA resolutions addressing libraries & educational materials and inclusive curricula as it imposes costly and burdensome additional requirements on school districts and allows residents, not just parents, to participate. Florida PTA worked with Equality Florida to urge legislators to oppose this bill.
 
HB 1557 Parental Rights in Education [Don’t Say Gay]

We ask our members to be careful about what a bill is titled as it does not always reflect the subject matter. This bill is a classic example. PTA opposed this bill based on NPTA’s Resolution on Recognition of LGBTQ Individuals as a Protected Class, its Position Statement on Family Engagement, its Standard #4 = Speaking Up for Every Child and its Position Statement on Shared Responsibility in Educational Decision-Making. The bill prohibits discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3 and otherwise as age- or developmentally inappropriate and encourages dissatisfied parents to bring legal action against school districts rather than working cooperatively to iron out differences. Additional concerns around the bill surround its vagueness.
The bill unfairly targets the LGBTQ community — particularly gay and trans students — and as we stated early on in committee is purportedly solving a problem that doesn’t exist. Regardless, it remains unclear what the “instruction” of sexual orientation or gender identity means. A definition of the type of lesson is not in the bill’s text which creates a chilling affect for teachers who may legitimately fear being sued for a wide variety of classroom instruction, including lessons concerning same-sex marriage or the history of the AIDS epidemic. For example: If a student raises a question that is not part of the lesson plan or the instructional plan of a teacher, but that question ties to sexual orientation or gender identity, then what can the teacher say at that point?
Which age groups the bill would apply to has also sparked fierce debate and the language of the provision opens districts and educators to lawsuits from parents who believe any conversation about LGBTQ people or issues to be inappropriate, regardless of their child’s age. It remains to be seen what ‘age appropriate’ or ‘developmentally appropriate’ means as the bill would requires the Florida Department of Education to update state standards by June 30, 2023, and influence how this bill is implemented. The Governor hasignaled his support for the measure several times; the legislation will go into effect July 1. Florida PTA worked with Equality Florida to urge legislators to oppose this bill.
 
  
HOMELESS YOUTH

Legislation, even good, common-sense bills sometimes take many years to make it through the Florida legislature. The booster seat bill and bill to improve the Baker Act provisions for children are examples of legislation that took many tries during sessions to become law. However, this year, the legislature passed in one session a bill that will make a tremendous difference for homeless youth in Florida. HB 1577 Homeless Youth/SB 1708 passed the legislature and is waiting for the governor's signature. The bills did not receive a single “no” vote and was amended along the way to include some improvements.
 
This bill would help youth experiencing homelessness in Florida to be able to work, study, and achieve independence. In the 2019-20 school year, Florida public schools identified 6,935 unaccompanied homeless youth statewide— students who are experiencing homelessness without the care of a parent or guardian. These youth are working hard to succeed in school, maintain employment, and keep themselves safe completely on their own. The legislation will extend them some basic supports that are provided to youth in foster care to help them access driver’s licenses and succeed in college. It also will align the state tuition exemption with federal financial aid requirements for youth experiencing homelessness, eliminating burdensome paperwork for colleges and students.
 
Florida PTA is proud to have supported this legislation and worked with the School House Connection Coalition and Equality Florida to urge legislators to vote for this bill. 
 
 
SB 1808 Immigration, headed to the Governor
 
This immigration bill blocks the state from doing business with companies that transport undocumented immigrants, including children, into Florida. While airlines that contract with the federal government to transport undocumented people could lose state business under the measure, they can't be prohibited from taking the contracts. The proposal is a top priority for the Governor. We believe the bill would harm women and children fleeing violence and poverty and opposed this bill based on our NPTA Position Statement on Rights and Services for Undocumented Children. Florida PTA is proud to have worked with the We are Policy Florida Coalition and Equality Florida to urge legislators to oppose this bill. 
  

Tax Holidays, but not yet signed into law
May 28 - June 10                   Disaster Preparedness Sales
July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023  Baby diapers
July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023  Energy Efficient appliances
July 1-7, 2022                         Freedom Week [Entertainment]
July 25 - August 7, 2022        Back-To-School
September 3-9, 2022             Skilled Worker Tools
October                                    Gas Tax 

Save the Date

Join us April 20, 2022 at 12pm and 7pm for Get Engaged Wednesday, The Governor & Legislative Session Update. Look for registration information to come out soon.

2023 Legislative Session
August 1, 2022: Deadline for filing Senate claim bills

March 7, 2023: Regular Session convenes
12:00 noon, deadline for filing bills for introduction

April 22, 2023: All bills are immediately certified
Motion to reconsider made and considered the same day

April 25, 2023: 50th day rule (Senate) - last day for regularly scheduled committee meetings

May 5, 2023: 60th day - last day of Regular Session
 
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