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Report details a large shift in funds to Florida's private schools

Report details a large shift in funds to Florida's private schools

Since 2019, when Florida lawmakers created a voucher program called the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, the “flow of public funds to private education” has dramatically increased, according to a new report by the nonprofit Florida Policy Institute and the Education Law Center. The report details an increase in money in the Florida Education Finance Program being “re-routed” from public school districts to voucher programs. The funding shift went from $326 million in 2020 to an estimated $1.3 billion for the 2022-2023 school year, according to the report. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida teacher pay national ranking in disputeFlorida teacher pay national ranking in dispute

Teacher pay has been a big deal in Florida for the past several years. State lawmakers have directed millions of new dollars into educator salaries, saying they want Florida to be able to compete for the best available. The effort hasn’t always been enough, with veteran teachers noting that most of the new money went into introductory pay levels, and younger teachers saying the pay isn’t enough to stay on the job. More from the Tampa Bay Times and the AP.

Florida's bar exam passage rate lowest in a decade

People who took the Florida Bar exam for the first time in July posted the lowest passage rate for July test-takers in a decade, a review of the data by The News Service of Florida shows. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners on Monday published results of the July exam showing that 64.4 percent of the 2,225 first-time participants passed. As a comparison, 80.2 percent of 3,034 first-time participants passed the Bar exam in July 2012. Since then, the lowest passage rate before this year was 67.2 percent in 2018. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Nearly 400 veterans have applied to become teachers in Florida under DeSantis-backed program

Nearly 400 veterans have applied for teaching jobs in Florida using a new pathway created by the legislature and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, but locally, there haven’t been any hires in two of the biggest school districts. DeSantis has touted the program in recent months that looks to military veterans to help address the ongoing statewide teacher shortage. DeSantis signed a bipartisan bill earlier this year that gives a five-year temporary certificate to veterans who have a minimum of four years of active duty military service with an honorable/medical discharge and a minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average. [Source: WJXT]

Education Department to seek budget boost

The Florida Department of Education plans to request nearly $24 billion during next year’s legislative session, an increase of about $880 million over the current fiscal year’s budget. Of that, $22.2 billion is eyed for operating the public-school and state-college systems and $1.8 billion would go toward capital-outlay expenditures, such as building projects. A projected increase of 45,272 students next school year spurred the department to ask for a nearly $317 million increase in the Florida Education Finance Program, or FEFP, the main funding source for public schools. [Source: News Service of Florida]


› Here are the books banned from Central Florida schools
In the last year, there have been more than 2,500 instances of books being pulled from shelves in schools across America as conservative groups coordinate efforts to target books for numerous reasons, typically related to race or gender themes. Some of those efforts got their start here in Central Florida. PEN America, an international group that advocates for literacy freedom, released its report on the banned book movement Monday, as the annual Banned Books Week got underway.

› Miami Dade College opens $6.5 million Artificial Intelligence Center for tech education
Upon entering Miami Dade College’s new Artificial Intelligence Center Tuesday on its North Campus, a college administrator asked a hologram named Sky to cite the names of the college’s trustees. Without hesitation, Sky mentioned each trustee as the crowd around her chattered in awe. Sky is just one example of the innovation housed in the center. As part of its efforts to better prepare students and local residents for technology careers, Miami Dade College and its foundation invested $6.5 million to construct the 13,000-square-foot center on the second floor of one of the campus buildings.

› Jacksonville University and Baptist Health: Earn a nursing degree in 12 months
Hospitals in Northeast Florida are not immune from the challenges created by the nationwide shortage of licensed nurses, so Baptist Health and Jacksonville University created a program to increase the health care professional pool. A study published in February by McKinsey & Company indicates that the coronavirus pandemic has altered many nurses’ career plans.

› Stetson University set to launch public polling center
Stetson University will launch a public polling center in October that will focus on Florida-based issues and politics as the critical midterm elections approach on Nov. 8. Steven Smallpage, PhD, associate professor of Political Science, will oversee the Center for Public Opinion Research (CPOR), working in conjunction with Stetson students to poll and collect data. The goal is to have the first poll released before the midterm elections. Over time, the new polling center will expand its reach nationwide, said Stetson President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD.