A few weeks ago, Gov. Rick Scott put out a challenge to teachers across the state: Come up with new ideas for Florida’s K-12 education system. One of the responses to that call is now coming in the form of a bill sponsored by state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey.
“Four teachers in our community responded to [Scott’s] challenge,” says Fasano aide Greg Giordano. “The senator and his team, along with the teachers, worked together to construct a piece of legislation that they feel can make a difference in the state’s education system — the recently filed S.B. 318, which would create a Statewide K-12 Education Commission.”
“The commission will be comprised of members appointed by the governor, the speaker of the House, the president of the Senate and the State Board of Education,” says Giordano. “We purposely listed the specific qualifications of the individuals who will serve so that the commission will have a diverse representation of Florida’s educational system.”
According to Giordano, the senator wants people from small, medium and large school districts to serve on the commission, and is seeking the participation of parents, current or retired educators, as well as representatives from charter schools and non-public schools.
“The purpose of the commission,” says Giordano, “will be to review all aspects of Florida’s educational delivery system and make recommendations to the Legislature for possible action to improve existing programs or to implement new ideas.”
Though K-12 education reform was pushed forward by former Gov. Jeb Bush, Giordano says Scott is the impetus behind the new bill.
Scott’s reputation among teachers has been floundering, to say the least. He signed the highly criticized teacher merit pay bill, which some said took a “wrecking ball” to the public education system. Though he ran on a campaign of job creation, critics have argued that Scott’s budget cuts would result in the layoffs of 20,000 teachers. Scott’s plans to abolish teacher tenure and expand vouchers for schools outside the public school system have also been heavily criticized by community educators.