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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Collier schools create first chink in Florida's Race to the Top effort



Thompson-tease_t607 Florida education commissioner Eric J. Smith wants to show off the state's united front as he puts in for up to $700 million from the Obama Administration's Race to the Top education reform grant.

Increasingly, it looks like he won't be getting what he wants.

Teachers groups, such as the United School Employees of Pasco, have begun to announce they won't sign off on the plan. They've argued that their interests aren't at heart with ideas such as evaluations based on student results that dominate the plan. 

That, perhaps, was to be expected.

But how about this one? Collier superintendent Dennis Thompson (shown) has told the Naples Daily News that he won't sign, either.

His reason: Too little money would come in exchange for too much ceding of authority to the feds. Plus, Thompson accurately notes, the effort would peeve too many teachers — the very people students need to be active and engaged in the classroom, not angry at the administration.

"We're not going to waste our effort and inflame our work force," Thompson told the paper.

And he's not considered a friend of the unions. He joins the Seminole School Board, which also voted to stay out of the race, as the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Has commissioner Smith overplayed his hand? Will Florida, considered a front-runner for the Obama bucks, fall to the side as districts decide it's not worth the tradeoff?  Even our area school board members in Pinellas and Hernando have been lukewarm at best to the concepts.

As some have pointed out, Hillsborough schools are getting seven years and $100 million from the Gates Foundation to work out just one piece of the plan that the state and feds would give districts way less money and way less time to accomplish. 

District are to submit their statements of intent this week, but the real deadline for districts to officially sign on the dotted line is Jan. 12. Keep an eye on this one.

(Photo from the Naples Daily News)

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:44am]


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