As a non-partisan organization, JPEF provides information to help individuals follow and understand the issues impacting education.
We encourage active engagement in the legislative process. If you have concerns, comments or questions about legislation, please contact your legislators.
Legislation Taking Effect July 1
The 2023 Legislative Session is over and several bills impacting education were approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Here is a look at some of the bills:
HB 1 - School Vouchers
As described below, the state has expanded the use of school vouchers so tax dollars follow the student and are applicable to a variety of learning environments. To help parents understand their options and make the best decision for their child, JPEF has created A Parent's Guide for Choosing a School.
HB 1069 – Student Pronouns
This bill prohibits educators from asking students what their pronouns are or sharing their preferred pronouns with students and says that school employees and contractors are not required to use a student’s preferred pronouns if the pronouns don’t correspond the student’s sex at birth. In addition, HB 1069 states that instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity can’t take place in grades pre-k through 8th. Sexual abstinence as the preferred way to prevent pregnancy and AIDS, however, may still be taught to 6-12th graders.
The bill also requires that all materials for sexual health instruction be approved by the Department of Education.
HB 733 - School Start Times
In two years – no later than July 1, 2026 – all Florida middle schools will start their school day no earlier than 8 a.m. and high school students will start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. This will apply to traditional public schools and charter schools, except for “charter schools in the workplace.”
SB 256 – Teachers Unions
Under this bill, school districts can’t deduct money from teacher checks for union dues, as they have historically; teachers have to sign up with unions and fill out forms for that to happen. If 60% of teachers don’t join the union, the union is declared defunct. The bill also adds additional audit requirements and allows for state investigations into unions if fraud is suspected. This bill is currently the subject of a lawsuit brought by the Florida Education Association, the United Faculty of Florida, the Alachua County teachers union and the University of Florida faculty union.
HJR 31- Partisan School Board Elections
This proposed constitutional amendment will go before voters in 2024 and, if approved, will require candidates for school board to declare a party affiliation. If approved, the first partisan school board elections would take place in 2026.
Duval County Public Schools Legislative Priorities
Among the legislative priorities for Duval County Public Schools are several that relate to the certification process for teachers. With Florida and Duval County facing one of the largest teaching shortages in the country, there is a need to address obstacles teachers face, while maintaining high standards for classroom instruction.
JPEF’s research into obstacles Black male and Latino teachers face supports the district’s legislative priorities regarding certification.
Change the term of temporary certification for candidates with a college degree from 3 years to 5 years providing teachers additional time to complete certification requirements.
Extend Senate Bill 896 (2022) which allowed military and veterans to apply for a 5-year temporary teaching certification with 60 credit hours to paraprofessionals and those pursuing education majors/minors with 60 hours of college credit and experience during the statewide critical teacher shortage.
JPEF’s original research shows that the current certification process is a barrier to teachers remaining in the classroom. Additionally, approximately two-thirds of current DCPS Black male and Latino teachers entered teaching through pathways other than traditional schools of education, and many were already working in the schools in non-teaching roles prior to becoming teachers. By fast-tracking these teacher candidates, Duval County schools could address the teacher shortage and increase teacher diversity.
DCPS has identified literacy as a critical concern for Duval County, with less than 50% of third graders reading at or above grade level. Because literacy skills begin developing prior to children entering kindergarten, DCPS has identified the need for more funding for Pre-K programs.
Provide funding for full-time Prekindergarten to give every family access to a free, public, high quality, full-time program as the current 3-hour program can be a barrier for families and children who need a full-day program.
JPEF’s research on literacy in Duval County as part of READ JAX supports this legislative priority.
Legislation Related to JPEF Priorities:
For over a decade, JPEF's research has shown that compensation is one of the key factors in recruiting and retaining teachers.
- In a 2021 report, JPEF looked at the teacher retention rate for Duval County. While DCPS had an 84% retention rate, JPEF found the rate to be closer to 75% due to inter-district transfers. Each teacher that permanently leaves DCPS costs the district about $11,000 in hiring and training to replace, and for the 2018-19 Academic Year, the cost of all teacher turnover was approximately $12 million.
- A 2018 JPEF report showed that teaching is not as appealing a profession for the millennial generation. Between 2010 and 2014, the percentage of high school graduates interested in education as a major declined by 16 percent. One large factor was teacher salaries. The report recommended, among other things, attaching advancement and growth to increased teacher pay.
- JPEF’s prior research on teacher retention has shown that compensation is the primary factor for teachers’ decisions to stay or leave the profession.
Two bills have been introduced that would address teacher compensation:
This legislation would set the minimum base salary for full-time preK-12 teachers at $65,000 per year.
Status: First reading in the House on March 7
Dubbed the "Save our Teachers Act" this bill would also raise the minimum base salary for full-time, preK-12 grade teachers to $65,000.
Status: Introduced in the Senate on March 7
Other Active Legislation:
This bill expands the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and the Family Empowerment Scholarship to provide public funding for any student enrolled in K-12 schools in Florida to use for private school tuition, tutoring, virtual school, certification tests, Advanced Placement exams, supplemental education materials and more. Students in foster care and students whose parents' income does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level ($51,337.50 for a family of four) would continue to get priority. Second priority would be given to students whose family income is between 185% and 400% of poverty ($110,000 for a family of four).
Status: Signed by Gov. DeSantis, becomes effective July 1
Florida Public Policy Institute's analysis of HB 1
Associated Press: Governor signs bill expanding school voucher program
Tampa Bay Times: Florida now has vouchers for all: 5 things families need to know
This resolution would require school board candidates to declare a party and run in partisan elections beginning in 2026.
Status: In Senate Rules Committee as of March 27
Miami Herald article: What to know about proposed K-12 education changes