ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Aug. 28, 2016
Florida's students didn't see their classrooms much this week, with Tropical Storm Hermine deciding instead to give them a five-day weekend. That didn't stop the education news, though. Retained third graders returned to their schools trying to get moved into fourth grade, judge's order in hand. The Florida Board of Education set forth some legislative priorities for the coming year. And student discipline remained in the spotlight, with districts looking for ways to be more consistent and fair. Keep up with Florida education news daily on the Gradebook. And don't forget to send your thoughts, tips and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top of the Times
Kids who defied Florida's third-grade testing rules hit roadblocks as they return to school, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"The Hernando County parents felt flush with victory Friday after a Leon County judge ruled that their children, and others across the state, had been wrongly held back in third grade. But their enthusiasm crashed Monday after Hernando officials hindered their efforts to enroll the students in fourth grade at their school, despite the judge's order."
RELATED: Lawsuit revives an old debate: Should Florida's struggling readers be forced to repeat third grade?, Jeffrey S. Solochek
Pinellas school district faces another discrimination complaint, Colleen Wright
"The Southern Poverty Law Center on Wednesday filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. The 58-page complaint claimed officials disproportionately arrested black students and students with disabilities and subjected them to restraints such as pepper spray for common misbehavior between 2010 to 2015."
Well-regarded principal abruptly leaves troubled Hernando elementary school, Dan DeWitt
"On Thursday morning, Moton Elementary School principal Jamie Young wore a T-shirt emblazoned with rainbow-colored letters spelling out the motto she adopted after taking over the troubled school in May: ‘Good Vibes Only!' It hasn't worked out that way. Young abruptly resigned Tuesday, citing the need for more teachers and other resources for the school, which slipped from a grade of C to D last school year and was the subject of a district investigation that found a wide range of policy violations."
Time to reconsider Florida's Best and Brightest bonus, State Board vice chair says, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"For two years, Florida lawmakers have ignored criticism and put millions of dollars into bonuses based, in part, on teachers' college entry exams. The Best and Brightest program has made it into the state budget, but not into law. That means the Legislature will have to consider the idea again when it reconvenes in 2017, this time with the program's most vocal proponent, Erik Fresen, and opponent, John Legg, both out of office. Florida Board of Education vice chairman John Padget suggested Wednesday that lawmakers find better use for the money."
Around the State
‘Grit' is all about effort and expectations, according to educators who highlight the link between determination and achievement, Florida Times-Union, Tessa Duvall
"Eleven-year-old Naiyah Peterson isn't sure why this article is about her and her determination in the classroom. For Naiyah, working hard is just what she's supposed to do."
Florida Education Board Asks For Legal Options To Address Jefferson School Failures, WFSU, Lynn Hatter
"The Florida Board of Education is growing frustrated with the failures of the Jefferson County School District, and it's looking for solutions, including a merger. But it's running into legal roadblocks, and Wednesday's meeting didn't provide any resolution. Meanwhile, the district's superintendent has lost his reelection bid."
Volusia reaching for more gender diversity in sports, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Erica Breunlin
"Volusia County schools are determined to harness that level of energy to attract more female athletes to their sports teams. Only two schools in the district - Spruce Creek High and Taylor Middle-High - satisfied federal and state athletic equity rules in recruiting enough female student athletes during the last academic year, a district equity report shows."
Schools aim for consistency, effectiveness in discipline, support, Panama City News Herald, Eryn Dion
"In the 2014-2015 school year, suspensions in the state of Florida hit a three-year low. The 2014-2015 school year is important, however, because it represents the first year the [Bay County] district began using its ‘discipline matrix,' essentially a flow chart for how the district disciplines students. Assistant Superintendent Gena Burgans said the matrix was created to provide uniformity in discipline practices between schools, as well as help in the shift toward keeping students in school."
What it Takes: Two high-poverty schools chase better graduation rates, American Public Radio, Emily Hanford
"The nation's high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, but high-poverty schools face a stubborn challenge. Schools in Miami and Pasadena are trying to do things differently."
3 of 5 school turnaround plans OK'd, The Ledger, Madison Fantozzi
"The Florida State Board of Education on Wednesday approved with conditions Polk County School District's plans to turnaround Denison, Kathleen and Shelley S. Boone middle schools. It denied plans for Lake Alfred-Addair and Westwood middle schools. The conditions for those approved: Teachers the state considers unsatisfactory be moved out of the schools and replaced with highly effective teachers."
Does Florida need more money to attract top charter school networks?, Redefined, Travis Pillow
"For years, Florida's top education officials have said the state needs to do more to recruit nationally recognized charter schools to the state's urban areas - especially in high-poverty neighborhoods where students struggle. But today, some members of the state Board of Education said those efforts might require more money."
Students better at math have economic impact, Tallahassee Democrat guest column, FSU physics professor Paul Cottle
"It was great to see that Florida's economy benefits from having strong college football programs Now just imagine what the economic boost would be if the state was as good at teaching math to middle and high school students as it is at college football."
Mom gets scary cyber wakeup call, Florida Today column, Sara Paulson
"It was a matter of time before someone inappropriately communicated with my kid online."
Charters prosper at public schools' expense, Ocala Star-Banner guest column, Marion County teacher Diane Schrier
"It's easy to blame people in our community for school grades, but that is not the accurate picture. Public school testing and corporate-owned charter schools are intricately linked."
Freedom means being able to say the Pledge - or not, Tallahassee Democrat guest column, Roy Speckhardt of the American Humanist Association
"By sending home a waiver, the Leon County School District ensured that children and their parents knew that students had the option of sitting out the Pledge, and parents could easily exempt their children from the Pledge recitation. In withdrawing this waiver, the Leon County School District may make it more difficult for students to exercise their freedom of speech and to protest a Pledge that discriminates against those students and families who do not believe in gods."
Reports of Note
High Stakes for High Achievers, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
From the Florida section: "Despite its pioneering use of student growth measures, Florida's accountability system does little to encourage schools to pay attention to their high achievers."
The study, "Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence," will be released on September 6 by Attendance Works.
The Institute for Family Studies will issue "Strong Families, Successful Schools: High School Graduation and School Discipline in the Sunshine State" on Sept. 8.
The Education Practices Commission meets Sept. 22-23 in Tampa at the Embassy Suites Tampa Airport.