Sweeping education bill expands Florida charters

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott on June 15 signed a sweeping education bill that offers more money to charter schools, expands a teacher bonus program and eases some testing requirements. Critics already are promising changes to the 278-page bill, a collection of policies individually debated by state lawmakers and pieced together by House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron during the regular session.

Scott's office received a flood of complaints about the measure, including more than 22,000 emails and phone calls urging him to reject it. Democratic Rep. Shevrin Jones says members of the Legislature placed politics over the residents they serve: "It is unbelievable that Gov. Scott has ignored the frustration and concerns that were made through phone calls, letters and emails from parents, teachers, students and superintendents."

Florida Education Association President Joanne McCall says the law undermines the state's public school system and should be changed in the next legislative session. "It's time for our elected leaders to begin to listen to parents, teachers and education staff professionals," says McCall, who is an AFT vice president. "They need to strengthen our neighborhood public schools, not work to undermine them."

Read a Tampa Bay Times editorial: "The Republican Phonies Assault Public Education."

[Florida Education Association]