Fiscal Year 2022-23 Budget
Legislators approved the $112.1 billion budget that includes $24.3 billion for K-12 education. The budget now awaits approval from the Governor, who has a line-item veto authority. Once approved, the budget will go into effect on July 1.
The $24.3 billion for K-12 schools is a $1.7 billion increase from the current year. Funding increased by about $385 per student from the current year, bringing funding to $8,143 per student. In line with the efforts to raise minimum teacher salary to $47,500 per year, the budget includes $800 million to increase teacher pay - $250 million dollars more than the current year.
A $200 million school recognition fund was included that will award funds to the districts that did not impose mask mandates last fall. Twelve districts who did impose mask mandates, including Duval County, are excluded from receiving these funds.
Stop WOKE Act; Individual Freedom; Racial and Sexual Discrimination
HB 7, the “individual Freedom” or “Stop W.O.K.E.” Act, passed the House and Senate, strictly limiting how schools and workplaces can talk and teach about race. Teaching students to believe the following concepts is considered discrimination based on race, color, national origin, or sex, under the law:
- “Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.”
- “An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
- “An individual's moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.”
- “Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin.”
- “An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.”
- “An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion.“
- “An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the individual played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.”
- “Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin to oppress members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.”
The language of the legislation remains vague and because this bill allows individuals, including parents, to sue schools for violating this legislation, school personnel may avoid discussing race all together for fear of legal action.
Parent Rights in Education (LGBTQ+)
HB 1557, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay" bill passed the House and Senate and significantly limits discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. It bans any instruction on the topics in kindergarten through third grade, even when it relates to a student's family, and any instruction in other grades that isn’t “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.” When students bring these topics up, school personnel must encourage them to have those conversations with their parents.
Like the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, parents and guardians can sue schools if they believe the law has been violated. Because of the vague language of the legislation, which doesn’t clarify what is “age appropriate,” school personnel may avoid discussing sexual orientation or gender identity at all, and students may be made to feel they have to hide their identity.
The amendment that would specifically require school personnel to “out” a student to their family was rescinded, but the language is still vague. School personnel are prohibited from keeping any information about students’ “mental, emotional or physical well-being" from their parents and guardians, in order to “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner."
School Board Compensation
HB 1467 passed both the House and Senate, requiring public schools to list all materials used in instruction in a public online database. It also allows for a public review process of any materials including a public comment opportunity about materials in questions. While it creates a 12-year term limit for school board members, the original language which would have changed school board compensation was not included in the final version.
These tests will determine school grades, teacher accountability, and student graduation.
Bills That Did Not Pass
HB 1055, Video Cameras in Public School Classrooms