Accountability for Legislators
Florida’s 2011 Education Report Card

The High-Stakes Test for Leadership

Fund Education Now grades legislators on their efforts to provide and fund “a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education” as outlined in Article IX, section 1 of the Florida Constitution. The Fund Education Now Legislative Education Report Card is compiled by parents and grades the actions of Florida legislators on behalf of public education and Florida’s children. With the Legislative Education Report Card- concerned citizens of Florida can easily identify legislators who support Florida’s schools and those that shirk their constitutional responsibilities.
Download the 2011 Report Card (PDF)


A = 100-90   |   B = 89-80   |   C = 79-70   |   D = 69-60   |   F = 59- lower

Florida Senate Grades

Florida House of Representatives Grades

Introduction: The Fund Education Now - 2014 Florida Education Report Card

The Fund Education Now 2014 Florida Education Report Card is a non-partisan look at the actions of Florida politicians. It’s time to make commitment to high-quality public education a litmus test for elected office. We owe it to Florida’s children to hold politicians accountable for their actions and their duty to provide a high quality public education for every child. In 2014, Florida voters will elect their Governor, key Senators and 121 members to the state House. Votes speak louder than words.

From the start, Florida political leaders spoke of steering clear of controversial education reforms. Their top priority was passing the budget and preserving Florida’s struggling A-F school grades/accountability system. Despite this plan, a rift over testing for voucher students grew between the Senate and the House ultimately highlighting the intent behind two controversial voucher expansions.

The 2014 Legislative session ended with a few wins for Florida public education such as passing a ban on collecting and sharing student biometric data. Citizens took action at the committee level to defeat the use of sales taxes to fund vouchers for religious schools. The charter effort to strip elected school boards of their right to approve and negotiate contracts also died in committee as did a confusing Return on Investment grading scheme for public schools, which exempted for-profit charters and private voucher schools.

Setbacks to Florida public education include an eleventh hour push by a handful of senators determined to pass voucher expansion at any cost. Unable to pass as SB 1512, the Senate stripped the entire bill and attached it to SB850. Known as a “train,” SB 850 housed the contents of three other bills. This political maneuver thwarted the democratic process by robbing Floridians of their right to full committee discussion. The law states that private , mostly religious, voucher schools are 100% exempt from high stakes testing, school grades, teacher accountability, school accreditation, hiring certified teachers and following state curriculum standards. Further, the law dramatically expands the base of eligible students by eroding the means testing used to originally justify the program.

The Education Accountability Transition Plan HB 7117/SB 1642 passed despite record numbers of citizen objections. The law provides a 1 year pause on assigning school grades, but zero relief to students who will still face grade retention, lose electives and be denied diplomas. The bill keeps all the harsh sanctions imposed on children and their teachers by A-F school grades. Legislators refused to consider the request of school boards, superintendents, teachers and parents to allow professional educators to write a new, fair accountability plan.

Despite a $360 million surplus, the claims that the 2014 budget beats the historic 2007 high point are simply not true. Today’s funding is not adjusted for inflation, unfunded digital mandates or the 80,000 additional students served this year. The 2014 per student funding is $6, 937.23, which is $206 dollars less than the $7,142.78 dollars in the 2007 budget.

The best news about the 2014 Legislative session is that your calls and letters defeated key bills, such as charter expansion, at the committee level. This is fundamental proof that your advocacy is producing results. When we work together, we have the power to make a difference for our children and their public schools.

Our Vision: Florida's Public Schools

Fund Education Now supports investment in traditional public schools and believes that education is an economic driver for Florida. We agree that the Florida Constitution states that it is the “paramount duty” of the legislature to provide and high quality education to every child living in the state.

We support accountability and assessment measures when used to look at the entire growth of a child over the course of a year and uses standardized testing for diagnostic purposes only.

We support recognizing teachers as professional educators and paying them what they are worth. We recognize the vital role teaching plays in setting up the next generation of creative and critical thinkers. Recruiting, retaining, training, and rewarding high-quality teachers and principals must be a high priority.

We support informed parental choice where parents can choose classes, programs, and public schools based on real outcomes. We support a level playing field for all publicly funded Florida schools and expect them to be evaluated using a uniform scale.

We support digital learning where students learn in a technology rich environment using age appropriate technology and instruction provided by a high quality classroom teacher.

We support the blended model of virtual instruction as an option to supplement the curriculum offered to high-school students as a choice, not a requirement, and only in keeping with the constitutional provision of a high quality education.

We support school districts’ right to local control and the freedom to pursue innovative practices.

We support local districts’ right to flexibility in the implementation of unfunded mandates.

We support multiple pathways to success which include a college ready track and a prestigious career track, increasing the opportunity for success that every Florida student deserves.

2014 Education Legislation

“Ban on Biometric Data”- (Support)                                                     Passed
HB 195/SB 188 Ban on Student Biometric Data – Discontinues the use of social security numbers for student identification and bans the collection and sharing of any student biometric data such as:

• Iris/retina screen

• Palm/finger/voice prints

• Facial geometry

“Charter Expansion”- (Oppose)                                                             Failed
HB 7083 Charter Expansion – Enormous public push-back sealed the fate of this bill that robbed citizens of their right to local control by stripping school boards of their right to:

• Negotiate charter school contracts

• Approve/deny applications

• Over-ride the power of the appointed Florida Board of Education

“Voucher Expansion” – (Oppose)                                                          Passed
SB 850 Voucher Expansion attached to “train” bill – Four separate bills in one, SB 850 features two voucher expansions that could not pass separately on their own individual merits.

Key Points

• Expands corporate tax subsidies to fund private, often religious, schools

• Exempts voucher schools from oversight such as: high stakes testing, school grades, teacher accountability, school accreditation, hiring certified teachers and following state curriculum standards

• Expands the diversion of public tax dollars to fund religious schools

• Creates a new voucher debit card entitlement that allows parents of disabled students to purchase heath care services with little oversight an vast potential for waste, fraud and abuse

Education Accountability Plan – (Oppose)                                           Passed
HB 7117/SB 1642 Education Accountability/New Test Transition Plan – Passed. Pauses school grades for one year. Legislators refused to consider the request of school boards, superintendents and advocates that professional educators be allowed the time to write a new accountability system free of sanctions and fear. Provides no relief for:

• Mandatory grade retention and teacher sanctions

• Lost electives due to “remediation”

• Denying diplomas