2019 Florida PTA LegCon and Advocacy Report (March 24-26)
Sunday Evening - Legislative Conference beings: We started with dinner and then we watched a documentary screening "Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope". The documentary introduced us to the Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES). What is ACES: "Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events occurring before age 18. ACEs include all types of abuse and neglect as well as parental mental illness, substance use, divorce, incarceration, and domestic violence. A landmark study in the 1990s found a significant relationship between the number of ACEs a person experienced and a variety of negative outcomes in adulthood, including poor physical and mental health, substance abuse, and risky behaviors"; and introduced us to the Miss Kendra's Curriculum: this elementary school workshop teaches children a child safety "bill of rights". See attached 10 ACES Questions.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. There are guides in English, Spanish and Creole, that schools can request at not cost.
We started with Florida PTA priorities - see attached update for more information. To summarize: SB 7030 School Safety and Security; PTA opposed the bill in part because of the extension of the Guardian Program to include teachers and private security guards. PTA states that the only people armed in schools should be SRO's (school resource officers). The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence has videos in their website (http://www.preventgunviolenceflorida.org).
SB 7070: K-12 Education: this expands the voucher program. This bill has good things, however, it has the funding of private school tuition using taxpayer dollars. Florida PTA wants accountability and transparency. Not only that parents need consistent comparable information about schools.
Representative Margaret Good (House 72); she refiled the same background bill that she filed last year. The last we heard was that it was in the subcommittee.
Chancellor Jacob Oliva from the FL Department of Education: He presented a powerpoint on the gains made by Florida public schools and students in the past 10 years. The charts showed a progression in Math, History, Civics, Biology, Science, graduation rates, etc. This was overall; it didn't go into details per each county.
There was 1,897 A or B public school rated last year.
Florida NAEP's scores increased compared to National levels.
Executive Order 19-31to become #1 in the nation in the workforce education by 2030.
Executive Order 19-32 calls for a standard review of the Common Core curriculum. The reports are due on January 1, 2010. There is a website: www.fldoes.org/standardreview so everybody can sign up for updates and have the chance to give their comments.
We were introduced to SEDNET, the multiagency network for students with emotional/behavioral disabilities. There are 19 regions across Florida and their goal is to provide Youth Mental Heath Awareness Training across the state.
Pam Mezzina - Clinical Health Worker from the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition was next. This is the number to contact: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). There were 3143 people who committed suicide in Florida last year. Presentation focus on warnings signs, protective factors, risks factors. More at their website (http://floridasuicideprevention.org). Here is the link to the Mayo Clinic Teen Suicide Prevention Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BByqa7bhto.
Dr. Mimi Graham presented the 'The Science of Early Childhood Investment: the First 1000 Days". This was a very powerful presentation. It started like "By Kindergarten we can predict successful children": 80% of their brain is developed by age 3 and 90% of their brain is developed by age 5. Dr. Graham stated: we know the factors, the problems and the solutions. 48% of low income / live in poverty; only 38% of parents read to children.
She went to explain the early development of the child. There is a 15 IQ point difference in kindergarten between children who were nurtured and children who weren't.
90% of traumatized children will end in the juvenile system. I downloaded a 2015 presentation (see attached) from Dr. Graham, for more information. She gave the same presentation with updated information but you get the idea.
Natalie Kelly from Florida Managing Entities: It was created a few years ago, and they manage the funds paid to outsourced mental health participants. The Department of Children and Families contract behavioral services through these managing entities; they don't provide direct services, but they allow the department's funding to be tailored to the specific behavioral needs in the various regions. Executed Managing Entity contract documents are available on the Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System (FACTS), maintained by the Florida Department of Financial Services. There was 69 million dollars assigned to schools, but school districts didn't know what to do with it.
RealTalk Event: See attached PDF for the Equity Report Card. It assigns a Pass/Fail Grade to 2019 education bills.
Senator Janet Cruz: she stated that 90% of Florida children go to public schools; 10% of children go to charter.
Andreina Figueroa / Lynn Norman Tech from the Florida Charter School Alliance: We have things in common: advocating for children; quality of education, accountability (they did say that there have been times they have supported closing down charter schools because they weren't doing what they were suppose); safety and mental health funding for children / teacher. A concern has been the fact that Florida has a shortage of teachers.
When questions were asked they stated that location of charters is decided at the city level, or/and county level.
Dominic M. Calabro - Florida Tax Watch: The group was created because there was a lack of accountability and transparency in allocating money at the state level. They do have tax accountability awards and family empowerment scholarships.
De Pallazo - Equality Florida: she is an advisor to the PTA Board. She talked about the high risk of suicide among the LGBTQ students (42% of transgender young people have tried to kill themselves). She has been doing Professional Development across the state; she works for 62 of the 67 counties.
TUESDAY: Meeting with Pam Beach County Legislators
I was able to set up 7 appointments with our legislators. I started a month earlier contacting them by phone/email to introduce myself. Their responses were the same: we don't have the schedule for that week of March 25, please contact us in 2 weeks/1 week prior to March 26. So followed up with them 2-week/1 week prior. Below are the legislators we met and the research as well:
SENATOR BOBBY POWELL: He is a co-sponsor of the S 430 Prohibiting Discrimination. Also, he is big in Juvenile Justice and restorative justice, He has a few bills referring to the Detention of Children (S-870), S-876 refers to restorative justice and this one has a companion in the House (HB-1293).
SENATOR BERMAN: She is the Vice Chair of Health Policy) and she is in the Education Committee as well. She has introduced a a bill regarding concealed weapons in child care facilities prohibiting open carrying. She is co-sponsoring SB66 - Drinking Water in Public Schools, Conversion Therapy and S422-Election of Commissioner of Education, Human Trafficking and Child Welfare bills.
SENATOR RADER: He introduced the tobacco-free school bill, and he is co-sponsoring: Child Welfare Bill (S262), Prohibiting Discrimination (SB430) and he has some appropriation bills for the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas HS victims compensation trust funds.
Rep Rick Roth: He is a grandfather (3). He is co-sponsoring the HB371 Discrimination in FL K-20 Public Education system that prohibits discrimination based on religion.
Rep Tina Polsky: she lives in Boca Raton. She introduced HB1025 - Sale, transfer or storage of fire arms. Also, in appropriation committee is HB 2573-Student Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) for an athlete center. She is co-sponsoring HB107 - Use of Wireless, HB109 Conversion Therapy and HB485 Prohibiting Discrimination.
Rep Matt Willhite: he is a firefighter. Co-sponsor of HB107-Use of Wireless...; HB361- Behavioral Health of Minors; and HB485 Prohibiting Discrimination.
Rep Al Jacquet: attorney born in St. Maarteen Nederlands Antilles. He introduced HB517 -Minimum Wage Bill and co-sponsor HB485 Prohibiting Discrimination.