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Fresen: Higher ed reform on legislative agenda

Last session, the Florida Legislature made sweeping changes to K-12 education, expanding virtual school, adding more vouchers and changing class-size rules.

What's next? Likely higher education changes, according to state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, who chairs a House education subcommittee.

"Rep. [Will] Weatherford and I last night, literally over dinner, were discussing kind of where we’re moving for this session for the education world," Fresen said. "We’re not looking into major policy shifts in the K-12 world. In the higher ed world, I think you’re going to see some reform packages come out."

Fresen said he expects to examine how college and university courses match job-market demands. Professor tenure may be part of the discussion, Fresen said. But he added: "It’s not going to be a driving charge to completely do away with tenure at the college level. It’s really putting a square peg in a round hole. It’s too complex to tackle it."

(Last session, Fresen's proposal to eliminate college tenure failed.)

Other issues that Fresen thinks should be on the table:

* Maximize the "profitability" of the state-funded Florida Virtual School, in terms of leasing, licensing and other proprietary options; and

* Allocate more taxdollars per student to charter schools, so that their funding is closer to how much traditional public schools receive for each student. "At the end of the day, it is a public school and it's the same parent," Fresen said.

His brother-in-law and sister work for Academica, a for-profit company that runs numerous charter schools in Florida.