GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Teachers at Pine View and Cox elementary schools in Pasco have their students become pen pals. It's about writing, social studies but, to the kids, mostly making new friends from "far away." (Times photo, Jeffrey S. Solochek)
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Middleton High senior Michael Rodeman spends most of every day at school. He depends heavily on his teachers, who worry about how he'll survive when he goes away to college.
RUNNING OUT OF MONEY: St. Peter Claver Catholic School in Tampa, perhaps Florida's oldest continuously running African-American school, faces closure at the end of the semester.
THE TIMES RECOMMENDS ... James Yant for Hernando School Board District 4. In part: "[Gene] Magrini has positive attributes, but he cannot match James C. Yant's greater level of experience and community service." Read more here.
BUDGET NEWS: Calls from all levels of Florida public education are to protect the schools from more cuts, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The Gainesville Sun urges Alachua voters to support a local-option tax for schools. Florida is one of many cash-strapped states changing the way public universities do business, the Wall Street Journal reports. Lee spares DARE, but funding for resource officers remains in limbo, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.
WHO SAYS THEY DON'T VALUE TEACHERS? Lee asked for teacher of the year nominations and got 2,325 names - that's about half the staff, the Naples Daily News reports.
BULLIES TARGETED: Florida school districts toughen their anti-bullying policies to conform with new state law, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
COMMUNITY SERVICE: The number of UF students headed to the Peace Corps more than doubles, the Gainesville Sun reports. (They say it has nothing to do with the lack of jobs, either.)
STAY IN ALABAMA: Escambia considers ending a nine-year agreement allowing students to cross the state line for schooling, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.
AROUND THE NATION: A judge upholds New York's ban on political buttons, the NY Times reports. Economics teachers across the country dump their lesson plans to focus on daily headlines, the Washington Post reports. Chicago Mayor Daley defends a new program paying kids for good grades, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Visit the Gradebook at noon for an interview with AFT president Randi Weingarten.