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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of May 8, 2016

The topics of Florida's education news from the past week reads like a "best of" list: Desegregation. Vouchers. Religion. Student rights. Charter schools. Recess. Report cards. Need I go on? Check out the highlights, and visit the Gradebook daily for the latest.

Top of the Times

NAACP in St. Petersburg calls for Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego to resign, Cara Fitzpatrick
"The NAACP is calling for Pinellas County school superintendent Mike Grego to resign, saying he hasn't taken responsibility for the failure of five predominantly black elementary schools in south St. Petersburg or shared a clear plan to improve the campuses."

Florida Department of Education to seek public input on accountability revisions, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Florida Department of Education leaders will be setting up an online forum this summer to collect ideas about how to revise the state's educational accountability system."

Judges consider teachers union's ability to sue in school voucher case, Kristen M. Clark
"A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal on Tuesday grilled attorneys for the state and for Florida's largest teachers union, as the union argued why it should have its day in court to challenge a voucher-like education program the Legislature approved 15 years ago."

Hillsborough school leaders want to monitor religious groups without discouraging volunteers, Marlene Sokol
"The Hillsborough County School Board cautioned against letting complaints about the role of faith-based groups in schools discourage volunteers from helping children. ‘We cannot do it alone,' member Susan Valdes said, thanking the adults who help her run a yearly back-to-school fair even though the discussion was about faith-based organizations."
EDITORIAL: Hillsborough School District clouds issue of proselytizing

Pinellas board appears ready to close three troubled charter schools, Colleen Wright
"The Pinellas County School Board appears poised to close three charter schools left in disarray by a company under contract to manage them."

Some Tampa Bay schools were addressing transgender issues before the Obama bathroom edict, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"School superintendents across Florida and the nation got a stern warning from the Obama administration on Friday to respect the rights of transgender students, or face the loss of federal funds. It's a matter of civil rights, the departments of Education and Justice asserted in a letter to districts. ‘This means that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity.' At least one Tampa-area school district was not waiting for an edict from Washington, D.C., to act on the sensitive subject."
DOCUMENT: See the letter from the Departments of Education and Justice

Around the State

Miami-Dade teachers worry playtime may cut into arts, bilingual classes, Miami Herald, Christina Veiga
"Recess. Music. Art. Learning a new language. Is there enough time in the school day to do it all? Parents and teachers debated whether more time to play in school would come at the expense of equally-important extracurricular classes when the Miami-Dade County School Board cast a preliminary vote on Wednesday to change its recess policy."

Complaint about prayer at Duval School Board meetings stirs debate, Florida Times-Union, Denise Smith Amos
"Should the Duval County School Board continue to allow group prayers at its monthly nighttime board meetings? That's the question board members and district officials are weighing after at least one anonymous complaint and recent dueling emails to board members from groups that disagree on the issue."

Broward debates awarding A+ grades to high school students, Sun-Sentinel, Brittany Shammas
"For Broward County high school students, A's are as good as it gets. At least for now. Some school board members want to begin awarding A+'s for work that goes above and beyond. They say it makes sense in a school system that gives out B+'s, C+'s and D+'s."

Not all magnet schools have lived up to their role as engines of integration, Florida Times-Union, Denise Smith Amos
"The number and share of black students are falling at most of Duval's popular magnet schools."

Manatee School District may retain ownership of Duette Elementary School, Florida's last 1-room schoolhouse, Bradenton Herald, Meghin Delaney
"A shared educational and community space -- still under the direction and ownership of Manatee County School District -- may be in store for Florida's last one-room schoolhouse."

Other Views

Is There a Teacher Shortage... or Not?, Opt Out Florida Network, Sandy Stenoff
"At a time when the entire nation is struggling to keep teachers, how can we be getting rid of one of our best?"

NAACP should stand with low-income parents for school choice, Tallahassee Democrat guest column, Pastor R.B. Holmes
"Giving disadvantaged parents the power to send their children to schools of their choice is not just educationally right. It is morally right. I will always stand with those parents, no matter who is aligned against them."

'For the students,' treat Florida teachers better, Sun-Sentinel column, Jac Wilder VerSteeg
"In ways big and small, the state of Florida and its local school districts are showing disrespect for teachers. As teachers tire of this mistreatment, the effect on students is bound to be bad."

School district put in no-win situation, Citrus County Chronicle editorial
"This is best explained in nuggets: 1. State law requires school districts to provide space to non-district charter schools, if space is available.  2. The Citrus County School District has space available and has opened it to the charter MYcroSchool of Integrated Academics and Technology. That space is in the district's Renaissance Center facility in Lecanto. 3. The Renaissance Center is where the school district sends students who might otherwise face expulsion; once they're back on track they return to their primary school.  4. The MYcroSchool is not run by the school district and is an institution to enable high school dropouts to earn a diploma. Different schools, different missions, but - the catch: same building."

Reports of Note

Building a Grad Nation, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University
FAST FACT:  Florida ranks third among states for highest percentage of low-graduation rate high schools, at 30 percent.

State of Preschool 2015, NIEER
FAST FACT: Florida ranks third nationally in access to prekindergarten, but 41st in spending on preschool programs.

Coming Up

The Florida Board of Education meets Friday May 20 in Orlando. The agenda is fairly light. Possible areas of interest: revised rules for English Language Learners, and adoption of new computer science standards.

[Last modified: Friday, May 13, 2016 9:50pm]


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