One of the FCCB’s key priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session is increasing equitable access to dual enrollment courses for private school students. Dual enrollment courses allow high school students to take college level courses while they are still in high school. Usually, these courses are taken on the college or university campus during the normal school day.
One of the FCCB's key legislative priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session is eliminating the prior-public-school attendance requirement in the Family Empowerment Scholarship and the McKay Scholarship while also continuing to promote educational pluralism and parental empowerment. SB 48 (Diaz) addresses both of these issues and is strongly supported by the FCCB. The bill streamlines and consolidates Florida's five K-12 scholarships into two programs, removes all existing requirements for students to be enrolled in a public school before participating in a scholarship program, and gives parents greater flexibility as to how they use scholarship funds to meet the particular needs of their students' education. You can read more about the measure on the FCCB Education Policy Team blog, Education and the Common Good.
The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Health & Human Services Committee took up and passed SB 582 (Rodrigues, R.) and HB 241 (Grall), respectively. FCCB supports these measures that create the "Parents' Bill of Rights." The bills enumerate a list of rights that a parent possesses, making it easier for parents to readily know their rights in order to better direct the education and health care of their children.
One of the FCCB’s key legislative priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session is eliminating the prior-public-school attendance requirement in the Family Empowerment Scholarship and the McKay Scholarship while also continuing to promote educational pluralism and parental empowerment. For the 2021 Legislative Session, Senator Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, has filed SB 48 which addresses both of these issues. The FCCB strongly supports this bill.
Florida is on the cutting edge of the school choice movement. Over 170,000 students are currently enrolled in one of Florida's five scholarship programs. This includes about 30,000 Catholic school students. Parents of qualifying students can use scholarship funds to pay for costs and tuition at an eligible private school. SB 48 (Diaz), a Catholic Days at the Capitol priority, streamlines and expands access to Florida's K-12 scholarship programs.
SB 52 (Rodrigues, R.) establishes the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program, providing access to dual enrollment courses for all Florida students. This is an improvement over current law which includes barriers for non-public schools and their students to the many educational advantages of enrollment in both high school and post-secondary courses. Mike Barrett, FCCB associate for education, testified in support of the bill. The bill passed its first committee of reference and is on the agenda for the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, February 9.
In the previous blog post “Four Principles”, we looked at the four basic principles Church teaching provides as a moral framework for assessing policy positions and political participation generally. In this post, we will examine how these principles can be applied to a key education policy issue: school choice programs.
As Catholics we are called to participate in political life.1 But what should this participation look like? What types of policies should we support, defend, or oppose? Even narrowing the scope to education policy, there is a vast array of issues including, but not limited to, school choice, public school funding, testing requirements, curriculum requirements, exceptional student education, student transportation, athletics, higher education, preschool education, charter schools, testing accountability, district governance, school safety, and state scholarship program funding. These issues each contain a plethora of sub-issues, statutory structures, and countless potential policy solutions, which in turn include changes to, or the wholesale creation of, state statutes and administrative regulations.
The FCCB Education Policy Team has launched a new blog on the FCCB website titled, "Education and the Common Good." This blog will be a place to discuss the mission of the Church as it pertains to education policy.
Since starting at the FCCB about four months ago, when I tell friends and family that I am the new associate for education, one of the most frequent comments I receive goes something like this: “The FCCB is great! Your action alerts and candidate questionnaires are super helpful, but . . . what do YOU do there?” It’s a reasonable question. The policy world can be complex and rather inaccessible unless your job is to spend most of the day diving into it. Things can get wonky fast. Before you know it, you’re discussing the policy implications of a state agency regulation based on a statute referenced within another statute that’s applicable to your research because you might be able to alleviate budget concerns by eliminating a comma.
TALLAHASSEE, FL (July 29, 2020) – Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) is pleased to announce that Michael T. (“Mike”) Barrett, Esq. has joined the staff as an associate for education. Barrett serves as a professional resource person for the FCCB in education matters; coordinates, monitors and advocates issues relating to government programs affecting Florida Catholic schools, their administrators, faculty, and pupils; and represents Catholic education at the state level in Florida and in coordination with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at the federal level. He represents the FCCB with the Florida Association of Academic Nonpublic Schools (FAANS) and maintains relationships with various school-choice organizations and special needs groups.
On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, upholding a tax-credit scholarship program in Montana. The Montana Supreme Court invalidated the program as a violation of the "Blaine Amendment" against aid to religious schools in its state constitution, because families benefiting include those who choose to send their children to religiously-affiliated schools.
In a May 20 letter to Governor Ron DeSantis, Michael Sheedy, FCCB executive director, asked the governor to consider the needs of students in Catholic schools as he decides how to use emergency funding awarded to state governors' offices to meet the needs of students and schools impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress on March 27.
Scholarships are available to assist with Catholic school tuition for families facing financial difficulties and whose financial situations may have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Families may qualify for a Step Up for Students scholarship to send their child to a K-12 Catholic school in Florida. For example, a family of four that makes less than $78,600 annually may qualify. For more information, see a video message from Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito of the Diocese of Palm Beach, FCCB education moderator, and visit the website of Step Up For Students.
For decades, Florida has played a leading role in creating policies to empower parents in determining the best schools or programs to serve their children. The state offers a robust lineup of scholarships for students from low-income families or with special education needs. These options offer parents a lifeline of hope and opportunity for their schoolchildren despite facing income or job loss due to the current crisis.
The present COVID-19 pandemic has significantly unsettled people's lives. Many families are isolated at home in order to promote public health. Schools have closed their doors, leaving teachers, parents, and students struggling to adjust to distance learning.
Coach Larissa Maloney at Father Lopez Catholic High School in Daytona Beach has received worldwide attention through her online physical education instruction in response to the distance learning due to the coronavirus. Maloney, head volleyball coach and a PE instructor, started a YouTube Channel, Active Kids 2.0, with the goal of live streaming 30-minute workouts every day in order to keep her students and players active. Her workouts have been a tremendous hit and are reaching and impacting people around the world.
On Friday, March 6, the full House took up HB 7067 (Education), and Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, chair of the House Education Committee, answered questions on the bill. The proposal would accelerate growth of the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) program, which provides scholarships for nearly 18,000 students from low-income families to attend non-public schools this year. In addition to boosting the formula that increases the number of students allowed to participate in the program each year, the bill removes the requirement to attend public school the year prior to participation for students in grades 1 and 2. It also allows students to take up to two Florida Virtual School courses per school year without reducing their basic FES scholarship amounts.
On second reading in the House, HB 7103 (Education), was amended with an FCCB supported measure that provides dual enrollment equity for private school students. Public and home-school students currently do not have to pay for dual enrollment courses at nearby colleges. The provision would make college more affordable for Florida families by increasing access to dual enrollment courses at state colleges and universities for private high school students. Certain courses would be made available without requiring payment by the family or the student's school. HB 7103 was placed on third reading for Monday, March 9.
House and Senate committees approved bills that would accelerate growth of the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) program, which provides scholarships for nearly 18,000 students from low-income families to attend non-public schools this year. In addition to boosting the formula that increases the number of students allowed to participate in the program each year, the bills remove the requirement to attend public school the year prior to participation for students in grades 1 and 2. They also allow students to take up to two Florida Virtual School courses per school year without reducing their basic FES scholarship amounts