Make us your home page


Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, Week of Aug. 24, 2016



This week in Florida education news, the state's third grade retention law came up for its court hearing. The judge issued her ruling on venue and injunctive relief late Friday. Florida's tax credit scholarship program hit a new participation high. And a form allowing Leon County parents to opt their children out of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at school sparked a firestorm. Get the latest Florida education news daily at the Gradebook.

Top of the Times

Judge issues mixed ruling on Florida's third-grade retention law, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"A Leon County circuit court judge has come down in favor of families challenging Florida's third-grade retention practices, ruling that school districts ignored the children's right to alternative forms of promotion and the state Department of Education allowed that to happen."
ORDER: Rhea v. Stewart
BACKGROUND: Judge weighs Florida third-grade testing policy after contentious hearing, News Service of Florida, Brandon Larrabee

After years of spiraling downward, will Hudson Elementary finally find success?, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Unlike some failing schools, Hudson [Elementary]'s is not the familiar tale of policy decisions that left the campus segregated and poor, with the least experienced teachers in the neediest classrooms. Rather, the school got extra attention as it tried to improve. Yet none of it seemed to work. It is an educational mystery that has puzzled school officials for more than a decade, but they are intent on finally solving it this year."

Hillsborough spreads the word on rules for religious groups volunteering in public schools, Marlene Sokol
"Hillsborough County school employees gathered Monday for three hours of training that included this admonishment from district leader MaryLou Whaley: ‘It's never okay for a teacher to pray with a student.'"

Report: Inexperienced teachers a problem in south St. Petersburg schools, but improvements noted, Cara Fitzpatrick
"Students at five failing elementary schools in St. Petersburg's black neighborhoods were far more likely to be taught by an inexperienced teacher than students enrolled in higher-performing schools in Pinellas County, a state review has found."

Florida tax credit scholarships hit record level, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Participation in Florida's tax credit scholarship program, which helps low-income students pay tuition at private schools, has surpassed 90,000 children for the first time, scholarship organization Step Up for Students announced Thursday."

LISTEN: Times education reporter Jeffrey S. Solochek talks about Florida education issues on WUSF's Florida Matters.

Around the State

LCS Pledge of Allegiance form axed after outcry, Tallahassee Democrat, Ryan Dailey
"A form allowing Leon County students to opt out of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance sparked social media backlash, prompting the district to scrap the move."
RELATED: School's 'Pledge of Allegiance' opt-out waiver incites online fury,

Volusia schools start year with strong uniform compliance, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Erica Breunlin
"Nearly every student enrolled in Volusia County Schools opened the door to the 2016-17 academic year donning a crisp, colored, collared shirt, district officials announced in their back-to-school recap at Tuesday night's board meeting. Somewhere ‘north of 99 percent' of students complied with the district's new uniform policy, rolled out this year, said Area Superintendent Gary Marks."

A black father's lessons in getting sons in school's gifted program, Palm Beach Post, Sonja Isger
"Eric Davis is black. His twin sons, Nigel and Elgin, are black. When they loaded their backpacks and headed for first grade years ago, Davis made sure they walked into a racially diverse elementary school in suburban Boynton Beach. And yet in their classroom then and for the next eight years, Nigel and Elgin didn't have any classmates who looked like them - no other black boys."

Corporal Punishment Use Found in Schools in 21 States, Education Week, Sarah D. Sparks and Alex Harwin
"Case law was set nearly 40 years ago, with the 1977 case Ingraham v. Wright. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Florida students who argued that corporal punishment violated their rights to due process under the 14th Amendment as well as their Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment."

Other Views

Florida Teacher to School Board: Why My Daughter Will Not Take the State Tests, Diane Ravitch's Blog, teacher Andy Goldstein
"It seems like it was just yesterday when my daughter entered kindergarten. At that time, I talked about her at our August School Board meeting in 2013. I said that my hopes and dreams for my daughter were that she would develop a lifelong love for learning that would serve her well as she learned to construct a life that would serve her and serve others as well. I told this board that my wife and I were not particularly interested in having her be seen as a data point for others to make money from. Now, three short years later, which seem to have gone by in the blink of an eye, she is entering third grade."

I pledge allegiance to keeping this quiet, Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino
"Florida still seems to be grappling with how to handle students who don't want to participate in the morning Pledge of Allegiance. You'd think by now we'd have had this settled. After all, we're all about freedom here in Florida."

Open records my foot, Clay Today, Eric Cravey
"Florida's Open Records laws are often viewed as an example for the nation and to not follow them is borders on failing to uphold the Florida Constitution. How is it that the state can provide the same documents that the local school district is refusing to provide?"

Avossa right to correct misstep mandating collaboration, Palm Beach Post editorial
[Palm Beach superintendent Robert] "Avossa, for the most part, has earned kudos for his handling of these various issues - including from this newspaper's Editorial Board. That is not the case when it comes to the recent dust-up over mandated collaboration with the Classroom Teachers Association (CTA), the union that represents the county's 12,000-plus teachers. The requirement, though well-intentioned, was ill-timed. Not only was it the start of the new school year, but teachers were fuming over a proposed scant pay raise. We are heartened that Avossa thought better of forcing the issue and quickly reversed his decision in favor of continued talks with union officials."

Bilingual programs bigger and better in Miami-Dade public schools, Miami Herald guest column, Miami-Dade schools chief academic officer Marie Izquierdo
"Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) is a leader in Florida in world-language instruction. It is committed to ensuring students fully acquire a second language and become bilingual and biliterate citizens. In fact, M-DCPS spends more on teaching foreign languages to elementary school students than every other district in Florida combined. The cost of allocating resources for K-5 bilingual instruction, about $20 million yearly, is a local commitment that is not funded by the state."

Pitbull's Charter School Opens in West Palm Beach, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Antonia Noori Farzan
"On the first day of school in much of South Florida (and the beginning of the second week in Palm Beach), the nature of Pitbull's relationship with the school is nebulous. When he gave the keynote speech at the 2013 National Charter Schools Conference in Washington, D.C. (we'll pause to let you picture that for a second), the Washington Post reported that his role was ‘coming up with different ways to get people involved.' His spokesman, Tom Muzquiz, told New Times Pitbull was a ‘brand ambassador' for SLAM, adding, ‘He takes the education thing to the next level, so to speak,' but he declined to provide further details about his involvement."

Reports of Note

Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After Three Years, Institute of Education Sciences
"Pay-for-performance had small, positive impacts on students' reading and math achievement. After three years of TIF implementation, average student achievement was 1 to 2 percentile points higher in schools that offered pay-for-performance bonuses than in schools that did not. This difference was equivalent to a gain of about four additional weeks of learning.

The Long-Term Impact of the Head Start Program, The Hamilton Project
"We find that Head Start participation increased positive parenting practices for each ethnic group and for participants whose mothers did not have a high school degree when compared with the outcomes of children who went to a preschool other than Head Start."

Education Next Poll 2016
"Education Next finds that the demise of school reform has been greatly exaggerated. Public support remains as high as ever for federally mandated testing, charter schools, tax credits to support private school choice, merit pay for teachers, and teacher tenure reform. However, backing for the Common Core State Standards and school vouchers fell to new lows in 2016. As in previous polls, Democrats are more supportive of Common Core than Republicans are, and we find polarization along party lines on several other issues. Surprisingly, more Democrats than Republicans support vouchers targeted to low-income students, tax credits, and vouchers for all families (universal vouchers)."

Coming Up

The Florida Board of Education meets Wednesday in St. Augustine, where it will hold an 8 a.m. workshop covering issues such as educator quality and the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, followed by a 2 p.m. meeting to review school turnaround plans.

[Last modified: Friday, August 26, 2016 4:02pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours