Monday, June 25, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of May 6, 2018

Finding a workable solution to help improve struggling schools isn’t easy. Changing the approach every few years can make the effort even harder. That’s what the Hillsborough County school district is finding as the administration encounters tough questions from the School Board over third reorganization amid a financial crisis.  • Don’t miss our weekly highlights of the news, views, reports and more. You can keep up daily with our conversation on Facebook, hear our podcast, and follow our blog to get all the latest Florida education news. All tips, comments and ideas welcome. Know anyone who’d like to get this weekly roundup or other education updates via email? Have them send a note to [email protected].

Top of the Times

In Hillsborough, another new plan for struggling schools draws questions, Marlene Sokol
“The same day he told his School Board about a $12.3 million budget deficit, Hillsborough County superintendent Jeff Eakins unveiled his most ambitious plan yet to rescue 49 district schools from a long cycle of low grades and neglect.”

Hernando district wrong to fire all Moton teachers, settlement says, Megan Reeves
“Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano signed a settlement agreement with the district teachers union Tuesday night, conceding to the group’s claim that she violated its contract when she fired the entire teaching staff at Moton Elementary last month.”

Pasco family sues school district over Pledge of Allegiance spat, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“A Pasco County family whose first grader was reprimanded in September for taking a knee while his classmates recited the Pledge of Allegiance has sued the school district, alleging the boy’s teacher violated his constitutional rights.”

Civil rights groups urge U.S. Education Secretary DeVos to reject Florida’s latest accountability plan, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“After several delays, the Florida Department of Education submitted its revised Every Student Succeeds Act plan to the federal government in mid April. Some civil rights group leaders want U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to do to the second version what she did to the first — reject it as noncompliant with federal law.”

Visit for more education news from the Times staff.

Around the State

State orders Duval schools to uproot hundreds of students again, Florida Times-Union, Denise Amos
“Two years ago Duval County Schools violated the law when it enrolled hundreds of students from four previously failing schools in other schools, including some rated D or F. State officials now say they want the district to take corrective action by re-assigning 378 of those students out of their current schools to a third school for next year. The new schools must be rated C or better, Superintendent Patricia Willis said Tuesday.”

Lee County teachers mandated to inflate grades at some schools, Fox 4, Tony Sadiku
“Teachers say students who would otherwise get a zero are given between a 50 to 59% regardless of whether they prove they’ve learned anything. If a student doesn’t turn in a single assignment all quarter, they’ve earned a 50% at some schools.”

Student asks school leaders to be civil, Ocala Star-Banner, Joe Callahan
“A 13-year-old middle school student who has been bullied most of his school life eloquently told the [Marion County] School Board on Tuesday that members are not treating each other in accordance with the board-approved Student Code of Conduct.”

Teachers can’t afford 91 percent of the homes in Miami, new study says, Miami Herald, Rob Wile
“There’s a reason why people are seriously considering having Miami teachers live at school. Miami area teachers can now only afford 9 percent of area homes, according to new data from Trulia.”

Other Views

Start early with civics education, Gainesville Sun columnist Nathan Crabbe
“The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has botched a ballot measure promoting civics education so badly that even Bob Graham is voting against it.”

Private school fraud, problems made by Legislature, Pensacola News-Journal editorial
“The upcoming sentencing in the Newpoint Charter Schools fraud case is yet another reminder of a private school culture that the Florida Legislature created with its policies by dumping millions of dollars away from public schools and into the pockets of a poorly regulated for-profit school industry.”

Charter schools bring unprecedented accountability to public education, TC Palm guest column, charter school board member Amy Banov
“Charter schools brought unprecedented academic accountability into public education.  If a charter school fails to provide adequate levels of student achievement, it can be closed. This is not true of district-run public schools, where failing schools often undergo school improvement and turnaround measures for years, subjecting generations of children to a subpar education.”

Put school safety above politics, Herald-Tribune editorial
“The Legislature should convene in a special session, if needed, to recalculate the costs of the enhanced requirements and reallocate funds to cover those costs during the next school year and beyond. But even if commissioners are trying to make a political point, they should maintain precedent and continue recognition that protecting children and adults at school is a shared responsibility.”

Honor teachers by helping them educate our children, Miami Herald guest column, Tracy Wilson Mourning of the Mourning Family Foundation
“Instead of hearing their calls for help over the years, we have sat idly by as taxpayer funds are being shifted out of the hands of public schools and into the pockets of private entities — organizations that operate with impunity and under no guarantee that children are receiving the education they need to become successful contributing members of our society. A quality education is important for all children, for all communities. Public school teachers need to know that they matter.”

Reports of Note

Rating Teacher-Preparation Programs, Education Next, Paul T. von Hippel and Laura Bellows
“We re-analyzed prior evaluations of teacher-preparation programs from six locations: Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Washington State, and New York City. We found negligible differences in teacher quality between programs, amounting to no more than 3 percent of the average test-score gap between students from low-income families and their more affluent peers. Differences between programs were negligible even in Louisiana and New York City, where earlier evaluations had reported substantial differences and fueled the push for program accountability.”

Hire Expectations: Big-district superintendents stay in their jobs longer than we think, Broad Center
“In American K-12 public education, women far outnumber men throughout our nation’s public education systems — from the classroom to the district’s central office. At the chief executive level, however, they are still deeply underrepresented and working to break through historic barriers to their leadership.”

Coming Up

May 15: Education Practices Commission, phone hearing

May 16: Florida Board of Education, Pinellas County School Board offices, Largo

Week of June 18: Candidate qualifying for state legislative and local school board seats

Gradebook: The Podcast

We’re podcasting, with newsmaker interviews and chats about the latest issues to crop up. Please take a listen, and send any thoughts, tips and ideas to [email protected].

The latest: Suing over HB 7069, with Pinellas School Board chair Rene Flowers

Subscribe to the podcast and review it on iTunes. You also can find our past episodes on SoundCloud.

Local tax referendum unlikely for Pasco County schools

Local tax referendum unlikely for Pasco County schools

Pasco County school district finance officials say added retirement and security expenses drive a projected budget shortfall of more than $1 million for the coming year. They're looking for ways to make ends meet.Unlike other districts, though, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Retiring Pasco School Board incumbent Luikart recommends candidate to replace him

Retiring Pasco School Board incumbent Luikart recommends candidate to replace him

Four hopefuls will appear on the August ballot to replace Pasco School Board District 5 representative Steve Luikart, who chose not to seek a third term.One of them stands out above the others, said Luikart, who met with all four to share his in...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida education news: Teacher hiring, candidate qualifying, civics lessons and more

Florida education news: Teacher hiring, candidate qualifying, civics lessons and more

STAFFING PRIORITIES: Hillsborough County's most struggling schools seek to attract more top teachers and provide more services in hopes of boosting performance.CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Qualifying for August school board elections yields several cand...
Updated: 8 hours ago
On the campaign trail: For Hillsborough County School Board

On the campaign trail: For Hillsborough County School Board

These are the candidates who qualified Friday for the Hillsborough County School Board elections in August and November 2018.District 1, northwest Hillsborough and Town 'N Country:This is a special election to replace Susan Valdes, who resigned, effe...
Published: 06/22/18
Updated: 06/23/18
Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Pinellas School Board races

Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Pinellas School Board races

Thirteen candidates will vie for four seats on the Pinellas County School Board this year, as the two hopefuls qualified just before Friday's noon deadline.Three incumbents, including the board's leader and vice chair, aim to keep their seats amid a ...
Published: 06/22/18
Seven candidates qualify for Hernando County School Board races

Seven candidates qualify for Hernando County School Board races

Seven candidates have lined up in races for three seats open on the Hernando County School Board, including incumbents Mark Johnson and Susan Duval.Johnson, who was elected to the board's District 1 seat in 2014, faces challenger ...
Published: 06/22/18
Ballot set for Pasco County School Board races

Ballot set for Pasco County School Board races

Ten candidates qualified to run for three Pasco County School Board seats as the ballot officially closed at noon Friday.All of them had announced their plans well in advance, and rumors of a last-minute hopeful never materialized.The District 5 race...
Published: 06/22/18
Ridgewood High saw little improvement in final year of state testing

Ridgewood High saw little improvement in final year of state testing

As Pasco County school district officials discussed converting Ridgewood High School into a technical school, some leaders kept asking one question: What if the school actually improved its academic performance, making the change unnecessary?The scho...
Published: 06/22/18
Florida education news: Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit, immigrant education, tutoring troubles and more

Florida education news: Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit, immigrant education, tutoring troubles and more

TAKE A KNEE: Lawyers for the Pasco County school district say students do not have an unqualified, clearly established right to kneel during the daily pledge to the flag, rebutting a family's lawsuit contending otherwise.SUMMER LEARNING: So...
Published: 06/22/18
Pasco County report cards going virtual

Pasco County report cards going virtual

Pasco County parents should not check the mailbox for their children's report cards this summer.The grades are coming online only.After months of planning, the district will release fourth-quarter report cards in the online MyStudent grading system, ...
Published: 06/21/18