DeSantisSigns'Learn Local' Package, Deregulating Florida Public Schools

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the "Learn Local" package, deregulating public schools and loosening requirements. The package, effective July 1, overhauls teacher training, governance, and student promotion requirements.

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DeSantisSigns'Learn Local' Package, Deregulating Florida Public Schools

DeSantisSigns'Learn Local' Package, Deregulating Florida Public Schools

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed, education legislative package aimed at loosening regulations on the state's public school districts. The "Learn Local" package, consisting of multiple bills including SB 7002 and SB 7004, frees Florida's school system from many requirements that did not apply to private competitors. This move is seen as a follow-up to the state's shift towards "universal school choice" last year.

Why this matters: This deregulation of public schools has significant implications for the future of education in Florida, potentially altering the balance of power between public and private schools. As the state continues to shift towards universal school choice, the impact on student outcomes, teacher training, and the overall quality of education will be closely watched.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo made the "Learn Local" package a top priority this year. The changes, which take effect on July 1, include overhauling teacher training requirements, addressing governance issues, and altering student promotion requirements. "I am tremendously grateful to Governor DeSantis, Speaker Renner, and all of the members who worked on our Learn Local package. The result is a tremendous win for Florida's traditional public schools as Florida begins the process of reevaluating what level of state oversight is necessary in an environment of universal school choice," Passidomo said.

Initially, the legislation had proposed eliminating a required 20-minute period of free play time and a 10th-grade English assessment. However, these changes were removed following pushback, including from former Governor Jeb Bush, who publicly objected to dropping the 10th-grade assessment. The new law makes it easier for students to advance to fourth grade, erasing a part of Bush's education reform. It allows parents to decide against retaining a child in third grade if they don't pass the state reading test and deletes the requirement that students pass a standardized algebra test, instead asking students to earn one credit in algebra with a standardized test at the end of the year constituting 30% of the final course grade.

DeSantis also signed legislation (SB 7032) establishing the Graduation Alternative to Traditional Education (GATE) program, which will waive tuition and fees for individuals who quit high school but pursue vocational diplomas or workforce credentials in Florida's state college system. The Florida Legislature allocated $4 million to cover the costs of this effort.

Senate President Passidomo signaled that her push to deregulate public education is far from over, with plans to continue working on deregulation in the coming years. The signing of the "Learn Local" package marks a significant development in Florida's education policy, building on the momentum of last year's "universal school choice" initiative and aiming to give public schools more flexibility in an increasingly competitive educational landscape.