TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The governor’s bipartisan goal to strengthen teachers’ rights is making steady progress in the Florida Senate as it passes the second three committees by another unanimous vote.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced in January his plan, the Teacher’s Bill of Rights, to enshrine in state law the powers and protections of Florida’s educators.
“We’ve worked very hard since I’ve been governor to focus on education, really across the board,” DeSantis said at the time.
bill, SB 244 has a list that includes protections for educators who follow state law but violate district policy. There is a shield for teachers trying to control a noisy classroom. In addition, the regulations include a way for teachers to report violations of their rights to the state education department.
Democrats have had some concerns, despite the overall support for the bill so far.
“I’ll tell you the negative before I tell you the positive,” said Sen. Tracy Davis of Jacksonville
During committee debate, Davis said the language appeared too broad.
“I’m not sure what else we mean when we talk about violating the rights of a student, a parent, or a teacher in that broad sense,” Davis said.
The bill has many others provisionsbut programs and incentives designed to bring more training to combat the state’s growing shortages have received perhaps the most support.
“The tools in this bill create the pipeline of learning that is needed to ensure that our school district and our children get what they deserve,” said Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, who authored the bill.
Kalatayud highlighted some of those tools in the Appropriations Subcommittee, such as easing teaching requirements for some, scholarship opportunities and a training program. The latter is something that former teachers enjoyed during public comments.
“That teacher I had — who was amazing — really got me through those years,” said Keith Calloway, a former educator and associate director of the Florida Professional Educators Network. “I got over that ‘hump’ of the first two years where I just didn’t know where I was or what I was doing.”
The bill now moves to a final committee before going to the Senate floor.
“It’s part of a constellation of policies we’re moving forward in this legislative session that support teachers – Calatayud – and it builds the future of our state.”
In the House of Representatives, lawmakers filed at least one measure placing some of the same provisions as the Senate bill. That means we can see how one bill builds into another — and some changes as the legislative process continues. But with the governor’s broad support and involvement, something is likely to land on his desk.