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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

U.S. Education secretary Duncan criticizes Florida's tutoring policy

What the feds giveth, the state taketh away.

And the feds aren't too happy about it.

U.S. Education secretary Arne Duncan is set to blast Florida lawmakers for their decision to require school districts to spend 15 percent of their Title I funding on free, private tutoring programs despite a federal No Child Left Behind waiver that exempted the state from the expense.

The Orlando Sentinel quotes an advance copy of Duncan's speech to the Florida Council of 100 today. In it, Duncan says, "I find it ironic that Washington is offering flexibility but Tallahassee is taking it away."

School district officials cheered the exemption when it came, saying they looked forward to spending the money more efficiently. A recent federal report backed up their concerns, saying the tutoring programs offered no proof of success.

Florida education commissioner Gerard Robinson issued a statement this morning as Duncan's criticism emerged:

"Currently, more than 74,000 students in Florida who attend Title I schools have an opportunity to participate in Supplemental Educational Services (SES) and get the extra help they need to be successful in school.  Because of our diverse population, Florida offers parents and students the choice to participate in after-school programs within the school district or through private service providers. 

"In this year’s legislative session, Florida legislators dedicated an amount equal to 15 percent of Title I, Part A funds available to schools for SES in the 2012-2013 school year.

"Florida sought a flexibility waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act last year precisely because we wanted to have the flexibility to make decisions for our students and our schools that are right for Florida. Suggesting that our state and our legislators were not acting in the best interest of Florida’s children reinforces how important it is that our state be allowed to chart a course that is right for Florida."

Stay tuned. More from the Associated Press here.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 17, 2012 5:29pm]


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