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State Actions Update – April 2019



Alabama

The House Education Policy Committee unanimously passed a comprehensive early literacy bill that would ensure kids are reading on grade level. HB 388, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, seeks to establish the necessary supports needed to make reading proficiency by the end of third grade a priority. ExcelinEd Director of Early Literacy Policy Cari Miller testified on the components of a comprehensive early literacy policy and highlighted success stories in Alabama’s neighboring states. The bill will now be considered by the full House.

The House Ways and Means Committee passed a bill that will ensure every student in Alabama has access to computer science curriculum by the 2020-2021 school year. HB 216, sponsored by Rep. David Faulkner, builds on Governor Kay Ivey’s commitment over the last year to seeing this through. The bill will now be considered by the House Education Committee.

 

Colorado

High school students will have greater concurrent and dual enrollment opportunities if SB 19-176 becomes law. This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Paul Lundeen and Sen. Jeff Bridges, unanimously passed out of the Senate and is already nearing its final stop in the House as the May 3 legislative adjournment date approaches.

SB19-199, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Todd and Sen. Bob Rankin, unanimously passed out of the Senate. This legislation will ensure greater accountability and transparency in the READ Act, in addition to providing additional teacher training, professional development and support based in the science of reading. The bill is quickly advancing in the House as the May 3 sine die approaches.

A bill that creates an innovative learning pilot program for grades 9-12 has successfully passed out of both legislative chambers. SB 19-216, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bridges and Rep. Shannon Bird, allows participating local education providers to count students as full-time regardless of whether they meet the required number of teacher-pupil contact hours for full-time enrollment. The bill will now head to Governor Jared Polis’ office for his signature.

 

Florida

The Florida Legislature passed an education omnibus bill, SB 7070, which contains several student-centered policies, including a proposal to create a new K-12 scholarship program called the Family Empowerment Scholarship. In its first year, the program would provide up to 18,000 students from low-income and some middle-income families with scholarships to attend participating private schools. Each year after, approximately 7,000 new students would be able to participate. SB 7070 now heads to Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature.

HB 401, sponsored by Rep. Nick DiCeglie, passed the Florida House. The legislation would give participating public school districts additional flexibility to continue innovating student learning by:

  • Expanding the mastery-based education pilot to other interested districts and university laboratory schools.
  • Providing flexibility for awarding high school credit based on mastery of academic content in lieu of the required 135 hours of “seat time.”
  • Providing flexibility for the interpretation of student A-F grades (e.g., A = Mastery instead of 90-100%).

Lawmakers are considering several pieces of legislation that would expand access to public charter schools.

  • HB 1197by Rep. Jason Fischer passed the Florida House. The legislation would allow state colleges and universities to authorize the creation of new charter schools in the state.
  • Senators are also considering legislation to expand charter school authorizers. SB 1470by Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr., passed the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month and would allow the Charter School Commission to sponsor certain charter schools. Both bills can now be considered by their full chambers.

HB 1061 by Rep. Toby Overdorf passed the Florida House. The legislation increases funding to public school districts for students who earn College Board Advanced Placement Capstone Diplomas. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

 

Georgia 

As the 2019 session adjourned, the House and Senate unanimously passed – and Governor Brian Kemp later signed – a bill that makes it easier for military students to enroll in public charter schools as their families are transferred into or within Georgia. HB 59, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton, was modified by the Senate Education Committee to add language from HB 558, which resolves a ruling from the state Attorney General’s office that would have made it difficult for certain charter schools to attract and retain quality board members.

Additionally, the House and Senate passed a bill to ensure that organizations granting tax credit scholarships to students to attend private schools cannot also accredit schools. HB 68, sponsored by Rep. John Carson, awaits Governor Kemp’s signature.

 

Idaho

Idaho’s legislative session recently ended with several visionary steps to ensure that Idaho’s families and students can succeed in school, careers and in life.  See an overview of the bills that were passed into law here.

 

Illinois

The House passed a bill that will prioritize and invest in expanding computer science opportunities for students. HB 817, sponsored by Rep. Chris Welch, directs the State Board of Education to supply school-level grants to support computer science education. The grants focus on teacher professional development and equipment purchases. The bill will now be considered by the Senate Education Committee.

 

Indiana

The House passed a bill that will provide for a public-private partnership to support local career and technical education (CTE) work. SB 420, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Raatz, establishes a tax credit program where donors may contribute to a nonprofit, designated by the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, to provide financial support for students and further implementation of priority CTE work. The language of this bill was folded into HB 1002, which has been sent to Governor Eric Holcomb for his signature.

 

Nebraska

LB 670, sponsored by Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, passed the Revenue Committee. The legislation would provide students and families with greater educational opportunity by creating a tax credit scholarship program. The bill next moves to consideration by the full legislature.

 

North Carolina

SB 438, by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, which includes several improvements to Read to Achieve, the state’s early literacy initiative, passed the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee. It now moves to the full Senate.

SB 621, sponsored by Senate Education Co-Chair Jerry Tillman, received a favorable vote from the Senate. The bill, which would eliminate certain local standardized testing, now moves to the House.

The Senate approved SB 392, sponsored by Senate Education Co-Chair Deanna Ballard, which would give public charter schools the option to bypass local governments and instead seek state approval of facility bonds. The bill now moves to the House.

The House Education K-12 Committee approved HB 199 by House Majority Whip Jon Hardister. The bill would make permanent the charter transportation funding grants first enacted via the budget in 2017. It awaits consideration in the House Appropriations Education Subcommittee.

 

Ohio

HB 166, sponsored by Rep. Scott Oelslager, was referred to the House Finance Committee. The bill represents the FY 2020-2021 operating budget as proposed by Governor Mike DeWine. It contains $30 million in each of the next two years to incentivize high-quality charter school networks to establish schools in Ohio and $25 million in each of the next two years to incentivize students to earn industry-recognized credentials prior to graduation.

 

Oklahoma

SB 407, sponsored by Sen. Dave Rader and Rep. Jon Echols, passed the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. The legislation would allow a greater number of students to take advantage of a tax credit scholarship by increasing the annual cap for tax credits that can be authorized for scholarship donations and expanding school eligibility. The bill awaits consideration in the House.

SB 593, sponsored by Sen. Gary Stanislawski and Rep. Jeff Boatman, passed the House. The legislation would help ensure the delivery of quality computer science courses by requiring the State Department of Education to develop a rubric for quality computer science programs in schools and allocating $1 million for professional development in computer science. The bill next moves to the Senate for review of House amendments.

 

Pennsylvania

HB 800, championed by Speaker Mike Turzai, cleared the House Education Committee. The bill increases the amount of tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $100 million, providing tens of thousands of additional Pennsylvania families the ability to choose a school that best fits their needs. The legislation also adds a funding escalator to the program, ensures more dollars go to student scholarships than administrative overhead and increases the income limit so that more families qualify for the program.

 

South Carolina

The House passed H 3403, a bill relating to next generation learning. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Neal Collins, was referred to the Senate Education & Public Works Committee.

After 15 hearings, a Senate Education subcommittee passed S 419, its version of House omnibus legislation addressing a range of reforms from early literacy to college and career readiness. The bill is currently being vetted in the full committee chaired by Sen. Greg Hembree, the bill sponsor.

 

Tennessee

The House and Senate have reached a compromise on Governor Bill Lee’s priority legislation, HB 939, after more than a dozen subcommittee, committee and floor stops. Sponsored by Senate Education Chair Dolores Gresham and House Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn, the proposal would create an Education Savings Account program to provide new educational options for up to 15,000 lower income students in Memphis and Nashville. The bill awaits final votes, expected today.

Three other bills await final consideration as the legislature wraps up business for the year:

  • SB 187, by Sen. Dolores Gresham, and companion HB 982 by House Education Chair Mark White, would return the state to paper testing for one year to ensure a smooth transition to online testing. The former awaits consideration by the full Senate; the latter, passed the House.
  • SB 442, by Sen. Mike Bell, and companion HB 91 by Rep. Gary Hicks, would create a study committee to review portfolio assessments in the state’s teacher accountability system. The former was passed by the Senate; the latter, in the House Finance Ways & Means Subcommittee.
  • SB 604, by Sen. Katrina Robinson, and companion HB 664, by Rep. Antonio Parkinson, would create alternative education options for expelled charter school students. The former awaits consideration by the full Senate; the latter, passed the House.

Two bills passed both the House and Senate and awaits Governor Lee’s signature:

  • HB 1339, by Rep. Mark White, would create a computer science task force.
  • HB 1508, by House Majority Leader William Lamberth, the budget, provides $1.8 million in funding for literacy coaches, as well as funding for the new state charter authorizer ($1 million) and for the GIVE Act ($25 million), both noted below. The budget also doubles facilities grants for charter schools to $12 million.

Governor Lee signed six bills into law:

  • SB 166, by Sen. Dolores Gresham, makes technical fixes to the state’s upcoming course access program.
  • SB 802, by Sen. Jack Johnson, bolsters financial transparency for local school districts.
  • SB 805, also by Sen. Johnson, enacts the GIVE Act, a Governor Lee priority that aims to increase the number of students earning industry certifications and taking advantage of other career readiness options.
  • SB 836, by Sen. Raumesh Akbari, creates a fairer default closure process for charter schools.
  • HB 940, by Rep. William Lamberth, creates a state commission that will thoroughly review and approve high-quality public charter school applications that have been denied by local districts.
  • SB 1398, by Sen. Mike Bell, would help ensure disadvantaged students are made fully aware of available college and career pathway options.

Texas

HB 3, sponsored by Rep. Dan Huberty, passed the House of Representatives. The legislation makes significant changes to school funding and, in some instances, provides financial incentives for certain student outcomes. The bill is currently in the Senate Education Committee where public testimony has been heard. The bill remains pending in the committee.

HB 2487, sponsored by Rep. Harold Dutton, passed the House Public Education Committee. The legislation would allow continued flexibility and foster greater innovation in the classroom by extending the exemption from collective bargaining to charter schools. The bill next moves to House floor.

The House Public Education Committee passed a bill that would help children, parents and teachers provide high quality education in locations and facilities that are safe and adequate. HB 3155, sponsored by Rep. Joe Deshotel, would grant charter schools the same considerations as a school district for the purposes of zoning, permitting, code compliance and land development and would prohibit a local government from enacting or enforcing regulations that limit the operation of a charter school based on its location or zoning district. The bill will now be considered by the full House.