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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

From Florida schools, true tales of budget horror

17

February

Munch_scream We've heard about Florida teachers' being told to unplug their coffee pots, and the one district that’s yanking light bulbs out of vending machines. But if you really want to know how 17 months of unprecedented budget cuts have hurt kids in Florida classrooms, read what 230 folks have written in response to this new Florida Association of School Administrators survey.

Read on for some telling anecdotes. And please, feel free to share your stories, too, either in comments below or via e-mail to matus@sptimes.com or solochek@sptimes.com.

Ron Matus, State Education Reporter (The Scream by Edward Munch)

"We are trying to get more students to add rigor to their coursework by taking more honors and Advanced Placement courses. We are particularly targeting underrepresented populations such as African-American and Hispanic students. This effort has been hurt in two ways. First, we cannot offer as many Advanced Placement sections because of a reduction in the number of teachers allocated to Gainesville High School. Secondly, these reluctant students cannot be successfully placed into more rigorous courses without offering them support. Unfortunately, we have had to eliminate our after-school tutoring program … "

"Summer opportunities for course makeup at the middle school level has been eliminated. At this point in time we are looking at possible academic retentions close to 100 where in years past, we may have had only a dozen. This will impact our school population, class size and facility use."

"I teach students who lack reading skills, and the most effective strategy in helping them comprehend text is to employ text-marking activities. In essence, students need copies to keep so that they can write in the margins (they are encouraged to do this on the actual FCAT exam). With current budget cuts, I am forced to generate limited Xerox copies. My classes of Level 1 and 2 students are bursting at the seams, making individual instruction almost impossible."

"Our paper budget was cut so that now instead of being able to give a handout, my students have to take notes from the board or overhead, which takes a great deal of class time that could be used for teaching."

"I am a fourth grade inclusion teacher of 21 students. Of that 21, seven are ESE students. This initial cut will take my experienced paraprofessional out of my classroom. We have already suffered because one of the other cuts includes the ESE inclusion teacher for my grade. So now, my students will really get the 'shaft.' The paraprofessional assigned to my grade will no longer be able to help with curriculum such as writing, reading and math. How can one person (me) reach all my grade level students and also the special needs students with one substitute teacher who has no training in that area? I don't know if meeting AYP will ever be possible without the support we receive from our paraprofessionals."

"A switch from teaching five periods to teaching six periods has dramatically increased the teacher's work load. They are now responsible for an additional 20 to 30 students. Some teachers unfortunately are now changing their tests from essay and short answers to multiple choice to ease their burden in grading."

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[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:15am]

    

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