Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a landmark package of legislation to support and empower Florida’s teachers, get TikTok out of schools, and protect the integrity of the classroom.
On Tuesday, DeSantis announced that he would approve more than $1 billion for teacher pay in this year’s budget, a $252 million increase over the current record. Overall, Florida has invested more than $3.3 billion for teacher salary increases and bonuses over the last five years.
“We have delivered another record boost to teacher pay and we have coupled salary increases with positive reforms. For far too long, unions and rogue school boards have pushed around our teachers, misused government funds for political purposes, taken money from teachers’ pockets to steer it for purposes other than representation of teachers, and sheltered their true political goals from the educators they purport to represent,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Today, I want to thank our legislative leaders and the many bill sponsors for working with us to empower our teachers and ushering in a new era of accountability to the people. No longer will politically motivated school boards and special interests wield their power over Florida’s teachers.”
In the news: Partisan School Board Elections In Florida Go On Ballot
In total, the Governor signed five bills and announced his intent to sign major funding for teachers included in the General Appropriations Act for the most historic package of teacher policy in the nation:
General Appropriations Act
$252+ million increase for the teacher salary increase categorical, which will stand at more than $1 billion for school year 2023–2024. Additionally, the Governor will sign:
- $10 million for the Heroes in the Classroom Bonus Program (HB 1035).
- $3.5 million for the Dual Enrollment Teacher Scholarship Program (HB 1035).
- $4.0 million for the Teacher Apprenticeship Program and Mentor Bonus (HB 1035).
- $5.0 million for the Grow Your Own Teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program Expansion.
In the news: Florida Gov. DeSantis Shelves Cell Phones In Class, TikTok In Schools
Senate Bill 256
- Prohibits teachers’ unions from using government resources to have dues deducted directly from employee paychecks.
- Requires unions to notify members of the costs of membership.
- Requires a union to represent at least 60% of employees – increasing from the current 50%.
- Allows state investigations into unions suspected of fraud, waste, and abuse.
- Requires annual audits and financial disclosures for unions.
- Prohibits any union from offering anything of value to a public official in collective bargaining negotiations.
House Bill 477
- Reduces term limits from 12 to 8 years for school board members – the same term limits the Governor, Cabinet, and the entire Legislature are subject to.
- The Legislature also passed Joint Resolution 31, which will go directly onto the November 2024 General Election ballot, to return school board elections to transparent, partisan elections. District school board members have been elected in nonpartisan elections since 2000 but were elected in partisan elections prior to that year.
House Bill 1537
- Extends temporary teaching certificates from three years to five years.
- Improves the overall quality of Florida’s teacher preparation programs by eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic requirements from certification and alternative certification programs.
- Requires a system-wide shift from professional development to professional learning, including requiring the Department of Education to create a high-quality programs web-based marketplace.
- Expands eligibility for temporary teaching certification to candidates who are currently enrolled in state-approved teacher preparation programs.
- Additional provisions in the bill include:
- Declares September 11th to be “9/11 Heroes’ Day” and requires 45 minutes of instruction for middle school and high school students on the events of 9/11.
- Makes Florida the first state in the nation to formally adopt the Classical Learning Test as an alternative to SAT and ACT for schools to offer to students to earn postsecondary scholarship funding to state colleges and universities (Bright Futures) and establish concordant scores for graduation.
House Bill 1035
- Creates Chapter 1015 in Florida Statutes to codify the “Teachers’ Bill of Rights.”
- Takes a stand for teachers’ efforts to preserve safety and order in their classrooms by giving teaches the benefit of the doubt when breaking up fights, preventing assaults, and giving teachers the presumption of acting lawfully, acting on behalf of their personal safety, and the safety of their students.
- Gives Florida teachers an avenue to report if they have been directed to break the law by their administration or school board.
- Establishes the Heroes in the Classroom Bonus Program to provide a one-time sign-on bonus to retired first responders and veterans who become a full-time classroom teacher.
- Establishes the Teacher Apprenticeship Program and Mentor Bonus as an alternative pathway for individuals to enter the teaching profession and authorizes a temporary apprenticeship certificate.
- Establishes the Dual Enrollment Educator Scholarship Program to assist Florida public high school teachers in obtaining the graduate degree and credentials necessary to provide dual enrollment coursework directly to students on high school campuses.
House Bill 379
- Takes social media out of the classroom and TikTok out of our schools.
- Gives teachers the authority to establish classroom rules on cell phone use during instructional times and allows them to withhold a student’s phone if it is a disruption in the classroom.
- Requires district school boards to implement website filtering to prevent students from connecting to social media sites while using a district owned computer or server.
- Prohibits the use of TikTok on district owned devices.
- Requires schools to give instruction on the harmful effects of social media.
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