Florida Board of Education vice chairman John Padget on Tuesday continued his criticisms of the state's science standards, which have received a mediocre review from the Fordham Institute.
"Florida has to raise its science standard," Padget declared during the board's meeting in Tampa.
But, as some advocates feared, he did not look to the Next Generation Science Standards that many groups are pushing and the State Board is collecting public input about whether to adopt. Fordham rated the NGSS as no better than Florida's standards, after all, he noted.
By contrast, Fordham gave top marks to the standards in place in California and the District of Columbia. And that's where Padget said he is looking.
"When the time is right, I will advocate for the adoption of either California's or D.C.'s (standards) ... or a combination of the two," said the Monroe businessman and former schools superintendent.
That will save the state money and avoid reinventing the standards wheel, he suggested. "Florida must get it right."
You still have until the end of June to submit comments about the NGSS to the Florida Department of Education.
MORE F's: Superintendents warn the Florida Board of Education that multiple changes to the state school grading formula threaten to create more F schools and hurt the credibility of the accountability system. • The Polk district prepares letters to explain the changes to parents, the Ledger reports. • More from the Miami Herald.
RIPPED OFF: The Pasco School Board decides to sue Citigroup over what lawyers have called a bond scam.
STILL SEARCHING: The Hillsborough School Board struggles to find a new lead attorney.
AT USF: University of South Florida trustees question the value of the school's branch campuses. • Trustees also approve a cost-of-living tuition increase.
STAYING POWER: Hudson Middle School principal Terry Holback survives staff criticism to keep her post.
FIGHTING THE CORE: A grassroots organization plans to protest Florida's move to Common Core State Standards, State Impact Florida reports.
ACHIEVEMENT GAP: Low-income Sarasota students are losing ground to their peers on FCAT results, the Herald-Tribune reports. …Full Story
When the Herrera family first sued the Hillsborough County school district in federal court, Judge James Moody didn't think they had a case.Full Story
"Plaintiffs’ initial complaint alleged repeated conclusions of Defendants’ 'deliberate indifference' and 'pattern, practice, and custom of failing to ensure the safety and well-being of special needs students,'” Moody wrote.
He allowed them to re-file, and they did. Now he's letting the discrimination suit proceed.
"Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint, however, includes sufficient facts of a policy, practice, or custom, which caused I.H.’s injury," he wrote in his order on Tuesday, denying the district's motion to dismiss the Nov. 1 complaint.
"For example, Plaintiffs allege that: Defendants knowingly hired a Director of ESE who had no meaningful training, certification, or background in ESE; there were multiple incidents involving injuries and deaths of ESE students in Hillsborough County before and after I.H.’s death, and that these incidents demonstrate a pattern and practice of disregarding the safety and rights of ESE students."
Federal court is an unusual venue for such a lawsuit. But if the Herreras had filed a negligence suit in state court, the award would have been limited by sovereign immunity.
Instead, they are trying to prove that the ESE services in the Hillsborough school district are so lacking that they amount to discrimination. …
Florida Board of Education members called for tougher interventions for the state's most struggling schools as they approved turnaround plans for 58 of them, as well as updated accountability policies, on Tuesday.
"My problem is the total time that elapses between getting a D and corrective action," board vice chairman John Padget said. "I find this three-year thing too slow."
He noted that state rules allow a school to receive three consecutive D grades, or two straight F's, before required turnaround plans take effect.
"I just think we should look for ways, when we have a problem school ... to encourage the local superintendent and his staff to be very aggressive on corrective action," Padget said. "This is too bureaucratic and it takes too long."
He spoke specifically about the need to remove principals who fail to move their schools. In his view, Padget said, one D or F is enough to warrant a change.
"I think we've got to get that blunt," he said. "That person should be removed. I wold like to see rules that allow that type of aggressiveness." …Full Story
In convincing Bernie Machen to remain president at the University of Florida, Gov. Rick Scott agreed to give the school an extra $15 million each year through 2017 to help it break into the top 10 public universities.
Not only has the Legislature agreed to give UF that $75 million, but Machen pledged to match that amount through private fundraiser. That would provide UF $150 million over five years as it attempts to join the ranks of schools like the University of Virginia and the University of California, which has five campuses in the top 10 according to U.S. News and World Report.
UF is currently ranked No. 17.
But is $150 million enough? That is what university Board of Governors Chairman Dean Colson asked Machen during a presentation on UF's 2013-2014 work plan today.
“It’s not,” Machen responded. Half-joking, he said he wished he had asked Scott for more money when he had the chance.
But all is not lost. Machen says he thinks UF can “make a good run” at the top 10 with the $150 million. He created a list of 29 benchmarks used to rank universities, and said UF falls in the top 10 in 22 of those categories. …Full Story
TAMPA — This year’s school grades aren’t out yet, but Florida educators already are worried.
With changes to the grading formula and higher testing standards kicking in this year , superintendents on Tuesday warned State Board of Education members and Commissioner Tony Bennett that they likely will see a dramatic drop in school grades despite relatively steady student performance compared to last year.
The disconnect, they said, will confuse the public and harm the credibility of education reform efforts.
“We are very supportive of accountability across the board,” Hillsborough school superintendent MaryEllen Elia told board members. “We aren’t shirking that, and we’ll take exactly what the data shows, but we have to make sure within the system of assessment that there is an appropriate accountability — not one that is not understandable.”
If the state’s grading formula stays the same, Hillsborough projects it could have as many as 20 F schools this year among its 142 elementaries — far above the usual handful. …Full Story
The St. Petersburg College board of trustees voted this morning to extend its president's contract by another year.
Bill Law, appointed in 2010, is now set to serve until June 30, 2016. His original contract was for three years, but since 2011 the trustees have voted each year to add another year to his tenure.
"I will tell you that I think Dr. Law has done a very good job of making sure we are doing a good job of focusing on what the real issues are at the college," particularly student achievement, Board Chairman Deveron Gibbons said.
As for planning and budgeting, "We're as good or better than we've ever been before in the time I've been on the board," said Gibbons, adding that SPC is getting "our fair share" in Tallahassee.
Law received high marks on his evaluation from the board of trustees, though some concerns lingered about the new Midtown campus, whose building is currently stalled.
In his self-assessment, Law said he was "chastened" by snafus with the project but wrote, "In the next few months we will be back on track, in control of our own destiny, and moving forward to better serve a deserving and needy community."Full Story
As it looks to expand its online presence, St. Petersburg College compiled a list of Florida's top 10 state and community colleges, by "like"s on Facebook. Have a look:
10. Hillsborough (8,213)
9. Seminole State (8,816)
8. Valencia (9,290)
7. Santa Fe (9,601)
6. St. Petersburg (9,877)
5. Florida State College at Jacksonville (11,609)
Terrence Brett bid farewell this morning to the St. Petersburg College board of trustees, which he's served on since 2008. Brett was appointed by former Gov. Crist to fill a seat, then reappointed to a four-year term in 2009. That was up.
"It has been a great privilege and honor to serve as a trustee. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and I can not tell you the respect I have for everybody in this room," said Brett, adding that he was happy to have watched SPC become a more student-focused institution in the last couple years.
"We can really start to see [ourselves] drilling down into the core mission of what this college is, which is to work to help students achieve their dreams," Brett said.
Brett owns his own funeral home, and is an SPC graduate who used to helm the college's alumni association.
Board Chairman Deveron Gibbons said he'd known Brett since "I was a kid - I had no gray hair." Gibbons said that Brett took him under his wing.
"I'll definitely miss you on this board, but I'll be spending a lot of time with you outside of it," said Gibbons, joking that Brett wouldn't be afraid to take his phone calls now. …Full Story
The release of FCAT and end-of-course exam results in recent weeks drove home the point for many Florida superintendents that school and district grades are unlikely to be good this summer. Changes to the grading formula, combined with higher testing standards, threaten to push the grades down, they argued in a recent letter to State Board of Education chairman Gary Chartrand.
Several superintendents plan to make the case in person this morning when the Florida Board of Education meets in Tampa. They want the board consider easing its way back into tougher grading rules.
Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho is one of those leading the charge. He wrote a column for the Miami Herald detailing his concerns: …Full Story
TEACHERS MATTER: Florida education commissioner Tony Bennett says having well trained and dedicated teachers plays a pivotal role in school and student success.
PRIVATIZATION: An Escambia charter school that earned two straight F grades decides to go private, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • The financially struggling Pembroke Pines charter school system prepares to hire Charter Schools USA for management, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
REPRIMAND: The mayor of Daytona Beach is reprimanded by the Department of Education for failing to follow through on an misconduct settlement he received while a high school assistant principal, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
FOLLOW THROUGH: Florida Atlantic University hires more faculty and advisers among steps to improve its poor graduation rate, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
LABOR NEWS: Brevard teacher contract negotiations stall, prompting the district to declare impasse, Florida Today reports.
DUAL ENROLLMENT: Brevard Community College and the School Board hammer out a deal to keep dual enrollment participation available despite state changes to the funding, Florida Today reports. …Full Story
Forty-two Florida school districts will get a bump to their budget bottom lines later this month, when the state reallocates its class size funds for 2012-13.
The 25 districts that did not comply with Florida's 2002 voter mandate on class sizes will pay $5.6 million in fines, which will be redistributed to districts that met the mark. In the Tampa area, the Hillsborough district stands to receive $687.240; Pinellas, $359,176; Pasco, $235,535; and Hernando, $80,761.
The largest donors to the fund are Duval ($1.59 million), Broward ($1.3 million) and Miami-Dade ($1.08 million).
The electronic fund transfers are due June 26. Some district officials have already indicated they plan to apply the money to offset deficits in 2013-14.
See the reallocation list here.Full Story
"Common sense prevails in Florida."
National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel made that statement after Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a bill mandating that teacher evaluations be tied to the performance of the students they actually teach. Although that sounds like "common sense," as Van Roekel said, lawmakers were amending a two-year-old measure imposing a new evaluation model that didn't make such connections clear.
The Florida Education Association and seven individual teachers sued over what they called the "absurdity" of the situation that had some teachers rated on the performance of students they had never met. And, although the new law takes steps toward a resolution, the FEA lawsuit won't go away just yet.
Too many unanswered questions remain, FEA leaders said in a news release. The new law doesn't create new tests for teachers who do not instruct FCAT-related courses, for instance, and it does not specify that teachers must be evaluated on the subjects they teach. …Full Story
It's not just teachers who are feeling the evaluation crush these days. Bill Law, the president of St. Petersburg College, is set to receive his annual ratings from the college's board of trustees tomorrow.
The Gradebook has a copy of the evaluation results, which reflect well on Law. Each of the four trustees rated Law on a scale of 1 to 5 on 32 items related to leadership, diversity, planning, budgeting, board relations, and community outreach. The trustees' ratings were then averaged together.
Most of Law's scores fell at 4 or higher, with no averages dipping below 3.5. We think it'd be fair to call the results an A-/B+.
Law received particularly high marks for "Provides leadership in the area of improving student success" and "Provides leadership in increasing student access and penetration into the community."
But Law was dinged repeatedly for his handling of the new Midtown campus. It was supposed to open in the fall of 2014, but after a challenge from a construction firm revealed that Law violated open meetings laws, prompting further legal action from the firm, the Midtown project is on hold indefinitely. …Full Story
Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning has taken several steps to reorganize the district administration, with a goal of improving services rendered to schools and students.
He's merged some departments, eliminated others, and reassigned staff members to where he says they will put their skills to best use.
But as School Board members head to their Tuesday meeting, where Browning has asked them to approve his administrative appointments and several new job descriptions, questions remain.
Board member Steve Luikart wants to know, for instance, what positions are being deleted to make room for the several new ones that Browning has proposed. Vice chairwoman Alison Crumbley, meanwhile, is looking for details about the plan's cost effectiveness.
"I need to know this is cost-neutral," Crumbley told the Gradebook. "Where are we headed with this?"
With the district planning to dip into reserves again to cover portions of a budget shortfall, she said, it has to take steps to ensure that all the burden of budget cuts doesn't fall on school-based employees alone. More layoffs aren't acceptable, she added. …Full Story