Sunday, March 21, 2010

Senator Tony Hill Files Legislation Recognizing Academic Excellence

An annual event that’s been characterized by some as “the most celebrated event in the life of a high school athlete” may get some competition if the Legislature signs off on a measure sponsored by Senator Anthony Hill (D-Jacksonville) and Representative Betty Reed (D-Tampa).

Dubbed the District School Board Policies and Procedures legislation, SB 206/HB 55 encourages district school boards to recognize academic ability as much as athletic prowess. Under the measure, the third Tuesday in April each year would be designated as “Academic Scholarship Signing Day.”

“We value academics in Florida like we do sports,” said Sen. Hill. “This bill is the perfect vehicle to recognize those students who excel in academics. In other words, this is their day.”

Currently, Florida law does not require or encourage school districts to conduct “Academic Scholarship Signing Day” assemblies or activities that recognize academic success. If passed, SB 206/HB55 will allow school districts to recognize high school seniors who have been awarded postsecondary academic scholarships and authorize assemblies or other events for this purpose. Additionally, students may sign actual or ceremonial documents signifying acceptance of the scholarship.

The “Academic Scholarship Signing Day” is modeled after the “letter of intent” signing activities conducted by many U.S. high schools to celebrate a student athlete’s acceptance of a college athletic scholarship. The purpose of Academic Scholarship Signing Day is to recognize academic achievement with similar fanfare.

“Recognizing our student athletes is always a great thing to do,” said Rep. Reed. “However, I feel that we should also recognize our best and our brightest students for their academic success. Wouldn’t it be a grand idea to hold a press conference or some type of celebration announcing a student’s acceptance of an ACADEMIC scholarship to study Economics?"

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