Gov. Rick Scott signed a sweeping education bill Monday, recasting requirements for high-school diplomas and laying out the standards for state universities to reach “preeminent” status.
The measure (SB 1076), weighing in at 144 pages, makes several major changes to high school and higher education.
It creates two “designations” for high school degrees, each with different requirements, with one aimed at encouraging students to work toward industry certification.
And the bill sets out standards for universities to be recognized as “preeminent universities,” with one of those schools being tapped to operate an online institute in an effort to encourage Internet-based education. It also authorizes universities to do what’s needed to offer the $10,000 degrees that Scott has touted.
The measure has been praised by business groups and educators, in part because it would free students who choose one of the designations from being required to pass some courses — such as Algebra II — that are aimed at college-bound students. Business groups also say the bill will more closely tie the education system to employers’ needs.
“Senate Bill 1076 will make sure our students are prepared for college and careers and have the skills to compete for jobs in an ever-competitive global marketplace,” Scott said during a ceremony marking the signing of the bill.
The proposal received overwhelming support in the Legislature, with the Senate approving it 33-7 and the House signing off unanimously.
“What this bill does is it transforms our education system — from our K-12 system and how you get a degree in Florida, and the requirements that are associated with it, to what you do and what type of university you go to and the quality of degree that you’re going to get in our universities,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. “It is transformational.”
Officials insisted allowing two tracks toward a high school diploma wouldn’t water down Florida’s education. As if to emphasize the point, the Foundation for Florida’s Future, an education group founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush, issued a statement praising the bill.
“Governor Scott’s signature ensures that Florida students will receive more meaningful tracks to a successful future,” said Patricia Levesque, the group’s executive director. “Today, our state showed its continued leadership in student-centered education reforms.”
by Brandon Larrabee