Gov. DeSantis signs legislation to boost classical schools, charters

Florida Politics | By Gray Rohrer | April 16, 2024

‘That’s going to create more and more momentum for the classical movement in Florida.’

One day after touting a bill to speed up the conversion of failing traditional public schools to charter schools, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it.

“By focusing on core academic subjects and rejecting indoctrination in the classroom, we have become a standard-bearer for educational excellence,” DeSantis said. “The legislation I signed today continues to build on Florida’s previous accomplishments.”

The bill (HB 1285) requires school districts who opt to convert a failing traditional public school to a charter school to have a contract with a charter school company by Oct. 1 of the final year of control of the school, leaving enough time to prepare a turnaround plan.

The sweeping measure also restricts the challenges to books in public school libraries. Under the current law anyone can file numerous challenges to books, which must then be reviewed for compliance with a state ban on sexually explicit material. Under HB 1285, those without children attending schools in a given district will only be able to challenge one book per month.

DeSantis highlighted both of those provisions at an event in Pensacola on Monday, but during the bill signing event Tuesday at Jacksonville Classical School, he emphasized a part of the bill requiring the State Board of Education to adopt rules for issuing classical education teaching certificates.

Supporters of the bill hope the measure will help recruit teachers to such schools.

“That’s going to create more and more momentum for the classical movement in Florida,” Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said. “This is going to allow us to enhance that teacher development and that teacher recruitment.”

DeSantis also highlighted a provision expanding the state’s Purple Star School District Program to aid students with parents in the military and to require schools to offer juniors and seniors the option to take a military recruitment aptitude test and speak with a military recruiter.

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