By Florence Brainerd, FRA Legislative Advocate
FLORIDAS POLITICAL SCENE
Charlie Crist was sworn in as Floridas seventh Commissioner of Education and State Cabinet member, a two year term. Former Commissioner Tom Gallagher was sworn in as the Florida Treasurer/Insurance Commissioner. Florida elected 25 Republican and 15 Democratic Senators (same division as last year). And, on the House side, Republicans picked up two seats totaling 77 to the Democrats 43 seats.
EDUCATION COMMITTEE AGENDAS
Because of new leadership in the legislature, the Senate and House have no published agendas at this writing. However, organizational meetings began Tuesday, January 9, and will continue up to the session, March 6. Senate Education Committee assignments have been posted.
EDUCATION COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
Senate President John McKay (R) appointed the Education Committee Chair and committee members.
Ken Pruitt (R) Chair Ron Klein (D)
Les Miller (D) Vice-Chair John F. Laurent (R)
Anna Cowen (R) Al Lawson (D)
Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R) Richard Mitchell (D)
Buddy Dyer (D) Jim Sebesta (R)
Jim Horne (R) Don Sullivan (R)
Daryl L. Jones (D)
Senate Education Appropriations Chair is Senator Don Sullivan.
House Speaker Tom Feeney (R) appointed Education Committee Chairs.
Jerry Melvin (R) Lifelong Learning Council
Heather Fiorentina (R) General Education
Renier Diaz de la Portilla (R) Education Innovations
Bev Kilmer (R) Colleges and Universities
Evelyn Lynn (R) - Fiscal Responsibility
THE GOVERNORS READING INNITIATIVES
Governor Jeb Bush will announce his Reading Initiative Plan on January 17.
COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION AGENDA
Education Commissioner Charlie Crist encourages open dialogue with FRA. Commissioner Crist will begin his term by focusing on teacher advocacy, student and fiscal accountability, school safety, and reducing the number of portable classrooms on Floridas public school campuses.
FLORIDA EDUCATION STANDARDS COMMISSION
Initial recommendations for the Subject Matter Content Standards for Floridas Early Childhood Teachers have been completed by FESC in collaboration with the Florida Partnership for School Readiness and Postsecondary Education Planning Commission. Pre-reading/Literature and Reading in Early Childhood are included in the Subject Matter Content Standards.
IN CONCLUSION The Legislative Session 2001 will be a year of new faces with a mind set on drawing new voting district lines, writing legislation for election law, and reorganizing cabinet positions being eliminated in two years.
All FRA Board Members and Local Councils are encouraged to get involved and stay active in local school board decisions as well as keeping in touch with local legislators on issues that concern and affect reading initiatives.