“Today I am saddened by the Governor’s action in signing HB 7069. This devious bill, hatched in secret, and strong-armed through the Legislature will deal a significant blow to our State’s public education system. For the first time, private-charter school operators will now have access to local school district tax-revenue. This will undoubtedly lead to less money for our already starved-traditional public schools. I fear that a lack of accountability in these charters will result in wasted dollars for untested and redundant facilities, all to prop up private entities that are closing down nearly as fast as they are opening up. I join the thousands of parents, schoolteachers, and education advocates around Florida in bowing my head in shame. Our government can do better.”
“I would like to thank the Governor for visiting Senate District 13, but I’m very disappointed that he used the signing of HB 7069 as the reason to stop by.
“This bill is an unwise experiment in education policy opposed by our state’s teachers, parents, professional administrators and superintendents. That’s why I urged him to veto it. Many of those that have opposed HB7069 have dedicated their lives to educating the students in Florida’s schools. HB7069 was secretly produced, and passed as a 278-page bitter pill that flew in the face of every tradition of transparency and openness required by our state’s laws and constitution.
“Let’s be clear about what HB7069 actually does: it enriches the for-profit education industry at the expense of Florida’s traditional public schools. The same schools that educated the vast majority of Floridians for generations despite daunting odds and an indifferent legislature for the past two decades.
“The legislation you signed today gives to the charter school industry a free hand, and promises them a bountiful reward. It allows corporations with no track record of success, no obligation to struggling students, and no mandated standards of accountability to flourish, with the sole obligation to their shareholders. Not the public. Not to well-intentioned parents desperate to see their children succeed – but to a group of investors who have made a business decision to add these companies to their portfolios because they are interested in making money.
“I would remind those who stand to profit personally from this legislation, some of whom hold high office, that an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Statement from Progress Florida Executive Director, Mark Ferrulo, on Gov. Scott’s signing into law HB 7069:
“Today, Gov. Rick Scott ignored thousands of parents, teachers and community leaders who have spoken out against this travesty of a bill and embraced a secret and unaccountable process to deal an underhanded sucker punch to public education in our state. Our students — the next generation of Floridians — are the ones who will pay the price.
Governor Rick Scott signed HB 7069 which provides nearly $419 million to Florida’s K-12 education system, expands teacher bonuses, increases funding for the Gardiner Scholarship for students with unique abilities and ensures Florida’s students can get a great education at the school of their choice. Additionally, during the recent Special Legislative Session called by Governor Scott, the Legislature allocated the highest per student K-12 funding in state history, increasing funding by $100 per student.
Governor Scott said, “Today, I am proud to sign legislation that expands the Gardiner Scholarship program to help support even more students with unique abilities and provides nearly $234 million in bonuses for Florida’s incredible public school teachers. This legislation, combined with the historic $100 per student increase in funding I called for during the special session, will put all of Florida’s students on a pathway toward success.
“When I was growing up, I had access to a good quality education, and every Florida child should have the same opportunity. Florida’s K-12 education system is so important to the future of our children and our state, and we will never stop looking for ways to improve how our students learn and achieve.”
Florida House of Representatives Speaker Richard Corcoran said, “Today is a great day for the students of Florida. Today is also a great day for parents and teachers who care deeply about our kids. Today is not a good day for the status quo or for those who accept failure as part of the system. I thank the Governor for his courage and his commitment to the hopes and dreams of the next generation. I look forward to working with him to make the promise of HB 7069 a reality.”
Former Senate President Andy Gardiner said, “Providing educational opportunities, resources and services to Floridians with unique abilities is so important in helping these individuals lead successful and independent lives. My wife Camille and I are proud to have Governor Scott sign this legislation today expanding the Gardiner Scholarship so that more children with unique abilities can receive a great education in Florida.”
Since taking office, Governor Scott has focused on ensuring that Florida’s children receive a quality education in K-12 public schools. Over the past six years, state funding for Florida’s K-12 public schools has increased by nearly $3 billion or 34 percent from a total amount of $8.7 billion in 2011 to $11.7 billion in this year’s Fighting for Florida’s Future budget.
Governor Scott is also a strong supporter of school choice. Along with expanding virtual education to all Florida students, the legislation signed by Governor Scott today continues the Governor’s commitment to supporting school choice for students across the state. Since taking office, Governor Scott has signed legislation providing flexibility and more than $450 million in funding to Florida’s high performing charter schools, allowing these schools to grow and serve more students.
To view the transmittal letter, click HERE.
In response to Rick Scott signing HB 7069, American Bridge spokesperson Joshua Karp made the following statement:
“Since his first year in office, Rick Scott has fought against public schools on behalf of wealthy corporate special interests. Today’s anti-education bill was crafted in secret by lobbyists and Tallahassee insiders to funnel millions of dollars to corporations that seek to profit off children’s education while diverting precious funding from Florida’s public schools where every dollar is precious. Yet again, Floridians will be worse off because Rick Scott and his friends care more about making money.”
To no one’s surprise, but to many Floridians’ disappointment, Governor Rick Scott approved HB 7069 today, firmly cementing his legacy of putting campaign politics above sound public policy.
“Equally troubling, he signed off on a bill hatched in secrecy which he had openly criticized, but now suddenly agrees that it’s ok to circumvent transparency, it’s ok to negotiate in secret, it’s ok to pull a fast one.
“HB 7069 aims an arrow straight at the heart of public education in Florida, a system that is struggling to stay alive despite repeated overhauls, starvation, and mandates under the latest standardized tests-du-jour.
“And it sets up a guarantee for the profitability of the charter school industry in this state by delivering public schools we’ve purposely ignored to corporate managers we’ve deliberately positioned for success.
“All of these perks we give to this industry under this bill – unregulated expansion, temporary teacher employment, financial self-rewards through cherry picking by principals – none of this is found in traditional public schools. Nor is the amount of state aid we owe to build or maintain the public schools long relegated to second-class status.
“For all of these reasons, it’s a bill that should have been vetoed, as countless Floridians continuously urged. And it’s a bill that we will not soon forget.”
Governor Rick Scott today signed HB 7069 which provides nearly $419 million to Florida’s K-12 education system, expands teacher bonuses, increases funding for the Gardiner Scholarship for students with unique abilities and ensures Florida’s students can get a great education at the school of their choice. Additionally, during the recent Special Legislative Session called by Governor Scott, the Legislature allocated the highest per student K-12 funding in state history, increasing funding by $100 per student.
Diaz calls today a landmark in Florida education reform
and praises Scott for his support of education choice.
State Representative Manny Diaz today joined Governor Rick Scott in Orlando as he signed House Bill 7069 into law.
“Today is a landmark day for education reform in Florida,” said Diaz. “I commend the Governor for continuing his steadfast support for educational choice and opportunities. Florida once again leads the nation in bold, innovative education policy. I also want to thank Speaker Corcoran for his bold leadership and Chairmen Bileca, Raburn and Latvala for their work on this great legislation for Florida families.”
House Bill 7069 includes a number of important provisions that will strengthen the state’s education system, including:
- Record-high funding, most of which will go directly to the classroom, teachers, and principals
- $30 million to ensure students with special needs maintain their scholarship through the Gardner Scholarship Program
- Funds to reward teacher excellence with bonuses
- Creation of the Schools of Excellence Program to provide administrative flexibility for the highest-performing schools
- $140 million to turn around failing schools through the Schools of Hope Program
- Streamlined testing requirements
- Mandatory 20-minute recess for all K-5 traditional public school students
As Chair of the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, Diaz took a leading role in crafting and passing the bill. He also serves on the Education Committee and is an education professional.
ON THE WEB: www.VoteMannyDiazJr.com
Paid by Manny Diaz Jr., Republican, for State Senator
Senator Gary M Farmer Jr. sent the following letter today to Governor Rick Scott urging him to veto HB 7069, a bill that would deal a devastating blow to Florida’s public school system.
June 13, 2017
Governor Rick Scott,
As you are well aware on Monday May 8, the State Legislature passed HB 7069. This bill, which faced bipartisan opposition in the State Senate, has the potential to devastate Florida’s public education system.
This dreadful piece of legislation, if signed into law, would dramatically reduce the ability of school districts across the state to devote resources towards improving our public education. HB 7069 would force school districts to give an even split of locally derived capital outlay funds to charter schools. This would cut $13 million a year from Broward County’s budget alone. In Palm Beach County, officials have predicted that this piece of legislation could impact districts so harshly that districts may see their credit ratings decrease, as mandated spending rises. This funding would be on top of PECO dollars that charters have regularly been receiving from general revenue.
What is further troubling about the proposed new capital outlay mandate is that it would allocate funds for charter schools to construct privately owned buildings. This will allow private management companies to build facilities for charter schools, which will then revert to private ownership in the event that the charter school either closes down or relocates. While we had language in the Senate education bill which would have prohibited the use of capital outlay funds for individual or corporate enrichment, this language was not included in HB 7069.
This bill would also mandate that traditional public schools allow charter schools to use their facilities at a deeply discounted rate, which does not reflect the fair market value of the property. It would allow charter schools to use vacant space in existing district facilities. This poses a major potential problem, as it would severely limit a school district’s ability to adequately plan for future growth.
HB 7069 also creates potentially harmful exemptions for charter schools with regard to zoning laws. This bill would allow charter schools to bypass land use or zoning requirements of local jurisdictions. This could harm both communities and students, by placing students in locations that are not suited for schools, and causing local complications such as negatively altering traffic patterns. There is a reason zoning laws are localized, and no industry should be exempt from this oversight designed to preserve and protect neighborhoods.
In addition to the negative policy effects of HB 7069, the process through which this bill was passed also raises some serious transparency issues. One of the highlights of your time as governor of this great state has been your commitment to making Florida one of the most transparent states in the nation. While there are many issues which you and I fundamentally disagree upon, making sure that the people have a clear view of our government during every step in the process, is something on which we see eye to eye. Unfortunately, the process by which HB 7069 was passed through both the House and the Senate was anything but transparent.
Until May 5, HB 7069 was a bill which dealt entirely with the Best and Brightest Scholarship Program. However, that afternoon the bill was fundamentally changed into a 278-page amendment that slashes funding for struggling schools and requires school districts to pay for charter school projects that they cannot afford. This amendment also included provisions that were the subject of some 55 other bills, the vast majority of which either had been voted down in committee or had stalled. The amendment also hijacked unrelated issues, such as recess and Gardiner Scholarships for students with special abilities, in a blatant attempt to borrow support. That may be the most offensive part of this process, as these issues enjoyed broad, bipartisan support – unlike the other controversial provisions of the bill.
This massive amendment was not released to the public until it was proposed during the appropriations conference committee meeting, leaving no time for public review or comment before it was agreed upon. This bill is a textbook example of a failure in government transparency.
Governor Scott, on behalf of my constituents in Broward County as well as parents and students across the state I implore you to please exercise your authority to veto HB 7069. While there are small pockets of good policy hidden within this bill, it is a monstrosity when coupled with the multitude of bad policies that have been included. Understanding the bad policy that is contained in this bill and the lack of transparency employed in its passage I urge you to please veto HB 7069.
Senator Gary M. Farmer
Led by Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens), united members of the Senate Democratic Caucus on Friday called on Governor Rick Scott to veto HB 7069.
“Signing this bill signals immediate financial peril for our public school system in Florida, and endangers the future of public education in our state,” said Leader Braynon. “We call on the governor to exercise his authority and stop it in its tracks.”
On Thursday, Senate Democrats attempted multiple amendments to restore critical funding to the K-12 system by rerouting state dollars committed to the controversial charter school plan pushed by the House Speaker. While future promises have been made to correct a multitude of problems expected to arise from HB 7069 should it become law, Democrats argue that the better, more pragmatic approach is to preempt them through a veto.
“Aside from the financial dangers, the fatal flaw in this legislation is that it was hatched in secrecy, and never subjected to vetting by the full legislature prior to its narrow passage,” said Leader Braynon. “Even the governor recognized this critical defect, and chastised those who participated in its creation. Propping up for-profit charter companies violates every tenet of our duty to the constitutional requirement of a quality public education for all children, and walks away from the oath we took to ensure its success. We owe no such duty to charter school management corporations.”
As the special session nears its end, Leader Braynon and the Democratic Caucus urged the governor to reexamine the need for such rushed legislation and quash the clandestine measure before the damage is done.
“Dropping this 278-page rewrite of Florida’s K-12 education on the last day of the 2017 session violated every promise of transparency and accountability made by those we task with governing,” said Leader Braynon. “We call on the governor to do what multitudes of parents, educators, school superintendents, and lawmakers are all looking to him to do: Veto HB 7069.”