On March 27, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 1 into law. As an Educational Leader, I always seek ways to improve student achievement. Appropriately implemented, I believe HB 1 will enhance educational outcomes in Florida.
During my time in Hillsborough County Public Schools, a District of over 225,000 students, I have had the opportunity to represent the District during the FASA Legislative Days. When I was selected for a Senate panel focused on school turnaround, the one message I shared was the need to increase student access and opportunity to post-secondary programs. Why? When we change a student’s life, we change their children’s lives and their community. HB 1 can do just that.
HB 1 aims to increase educational opportunities and outcomes for students in Florida through various initiatives. One of the essential aspects of the Bill is an increase in funding for public schools by $1 billion over the next three years. With this funding, schools can provide better resources and technology, ultimately improving the student experience.
The Bill also establishes a new Teacher Incentive Program, incentivizing high-performing teachers with bonuses and salary increases. Additionally, this program will help recruit and retain teachers, partially relieving our critical teacher shortages. As educational leaders, it is crucial to recognize and reward excellent work to motivate our educators and encourage the best outcomes for our students.
HB 1 creates a new Office of Education Innovation and Accountability to ensure that all schools meet necessary standards and implement effective teaching methods. HB 1 also enhances school districts’ approach to evaluating teachers.
The College Readiness Program will prepare students for higher education, and early childhood education funding will increase while incentives will encourage families to send their children to pre-K programs.
HB 1 also expands access to free college tuition for low-income families and allows students to take up to two years of college classes for free while in high school. While many students can currently dual-enroll in college-level courses in high school, this will provide additional opportunities for communities that may now be underserved.
The Bill also establishes the Innovation Challenge Grant Program, encouraging schools to implement cutting-edge practices.
It also creates a new Office of School Choice to provide alternative education options to ensure that every student in Florida can access an education that meets their unique needs. While we want to be the first choice for a child’s education, parents should make that decision, and this will assist them in selecting the best options for their child.
As leaders, we must base our decisions on data-driven evidence. Through increased funding, teacher incentives, innovative programs, and data-driven decision-making, we can transform our education system from the 100-year-old factory model and give our students the education they deserve.
Of course, with any new program or initiative, challenges and adjustments may be needed as it is implemented. Therefore, all stakeholders need to work together to ensure that the needs of each student we have the privilege to educate are met.
Florida’s House Bill (HB) 1 is a comprehensive plan for improving public education in the state. I am excited to see how this Bill will enhance instruction and improve student outcomes in Florida.
“It is perfectly true that that government is best which governs least. It is equally true that that government is best which provides most.”-Walter Lippmann
So, let’s all champion this Bill’s initiatives to improve the lives of our students.
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