How much classroom time Florida students spend actually learning will be a major focus for key state lawmakers in charge of dolling out more than $23 billion for pre-K-12 education next year, and some of those overhauls could be further reductions to mandatory testing as well as tweaks to the school-year calendar.
The specifics are yet to be proposed and debated, but Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. and Sen. David Simmons, the new chairmen of the pre-K-12 budget committees in their respective chambers, are both approaching their new responsibility with broad ambitions. They also share a unified goal to direct more dollars and resources to classrooms, even if it means upending the status quo.
“We’re going to look at and review and have oversight on every dollar in that budget. I think it’s our responsibility to ask the questions,” said Diaz, a Hialeah Republican in his third term who has had — and will continue to have — major influence in advancing school choice policies. “We want to take a deep dive and make sure that we’re getting ever penny that we can to that classroom across the board, whether it’s a traditional public school, a magnet, a charter.”
Diaz and Simmons both this week suggested revisions to the school-year calendar could be on the table in 2017, such as potentially extending the school-day for students in failing schools and adjusting when standardized tests are administered during the year.