Florida’s legislative session has generated some heavy-duty debate on big education issues, such as expanding tax credit scholarships and increasing accountability on the schools that accept them.
Most have proven so contentious that they have not gone without amending in their chamber of origin, much less in the opposite one. HB 7055 is but one prominent example: The Senate took the House version and completely rewrote it, and now Democrats in the Senate are proposing to revamp the rewrite. (See the Republican and Democrat strike-all amendments, which come up for discussion in Appropriations on Tuesday.)
But one bill has made it all the way through the House, with a 112-0 vote, with its identical companion poised for Senate approval (perhaps later this week) after having skated through three committees without a single note of opposition.
SB 856 / HB 577, with a bipartisan list of sponsors including Democrat Sen. Bill Montford and Republican Rep. Byron Donalds, aims to do one simple thing. It would allow high school students to count credits earned in approved apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs toward their graduation.
They could use the credit to fulfill either a fine or performing arts requirement, or as one of eight elective credits.
Lawmakers have talked about providing alternate paths toward a high school diploma for several years now, debating such ideas as eliminating certain tests and including industry certifications as substitutes for some course requirements. This measure, which by all accounts is the only education bill to move through both chambers unimpeded so far this session, marks another step toward that goal.
Leaders have said it’s critical to make sure that as many students as possible get their diplomas, which are a key to jobs and military service after high school.
So while other bills continue to come under fire, or seek a landing spot in the session now growing consumed by school safety and gun control efforts, this might be the one education issue that survives intact. Now be honest. Did you guess right?