On Monday, the Florida Senate passed SB 1028 which would allow Florida’s colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools. Under current law, colleges and universities can, through the Florida Department of Education’s approval, sponsor one school. The bill under consideration would place no limit on the number of charter schools an institution can sponsor.
For example, Florida State University (FSU) is the sponsor of a charter school in Leon County. FSU’s interest in the charter school is related to research, testing, and training for their faculty and students. The bill would allow FSU to sponsor other charter schools.
The Florida House subsequently passed the bill 80-39 sending it to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis.
Democrats were largely in opposition to the bill saying pathways to higher education already exist.
Republicans predominantly were in favor of the bill saying certain colleges and universities want to be able to provide pathways but were previously hindered by red tape.
“It really is about efficiency,” said Sen. Travis Hutson (R-7). “There are areas where there (are) colleges that want to go into multiple jurisdictions. Instead of having to go jurisdiction by jurisdiction they can now just go directly to the state.”
Charter school access expansion is a part of multiple education bills the Florida Legislature has been considering.
The Florida Legislature also passed HB 7045, a bill widening eligibility for taxpayer funded aid to send children to private schools, more commonly known as voucher programs. The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. (R-36) said schools’ closures due to COVID have put pressure on parents to seek out alternative education pathways for their children.
“The question we have here is a philosophical choice: Do we trust our families to make the right decisions for their student,” said Diaz. “COVID has exposed this even further, because parents have seen the education of their children go on, sometimes, on their dining room table.”
DeSantis has not signaled is intent on signing either of the bills, but Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-10) is supportive of HB 7045.
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