Lawmakers Preview Education Issues Impacting First Coast In Upcoming Legislative Session

Mar 1, 2017
Originally published on March 2, 2017 6:07 pm

Everything from mandatory recess to testing schedules is up for debate during the state legislative session that begins next week.

Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, and Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, laid out their education agendas to members of Duval County’s Parent Teacher Association Tuesday.

Bean is cosponsoring a bill to mandate elementary school kids get at least 20 minutes of recess a day. He said the policy is already in place in a handful of Florida school districts and is a common sense way to keep students healthy.

He’s also supporting a measure to move standardized testing to the very end of the school year. But one PTA member was concerned kids taking Advanced Placement tests would then be doubling up on exams at year’s end.

“We will work that out. What we can't have is — and I’ve got kids in public schools; one in high school — ... for the last two months of the year watching videos and busy work when we’ve already taken the test,” Bean said. “We will work that out. We’ll coordinate that.”

Jacksonville teachers also want to push the tests back further, but for different reasons. The state uses a student’s score to calculate teacher effectiveness, and later tests mean more time for kids to progress.

Perhaps the heaviest legislative lift, though, is a bill increasing the use of civil citations for students who run afoul of the law.

Democrat Tracie Davis is sponsoring that legislation. She recalled her experience in public schools as a reason why she intends to lead on educational issues like these.

“Glad to be in Tallahassee to have a voice for whatever you all need, the concerns you all have as (educators),” she said.

The 2017 legislative session begins March 7.

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Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.

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