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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Nov. 6, 2016



This week's elections brought some clarity to how Florida's education policy leadership will look at the state level, as well as some angst to the schools. Districts, meanwhile, continued business as usual, meaning dealing with budgets, testing, student assignment and, of course, educating. Visit the Gradebook daily for the latest Florida education news.

Top of the Times

Cost cutting continues in Hillsborough as more support teachers are moved to classrooms, Marlene Sokol
"The Hillsborough County School District is moving quickly to reduce its employee head count by transferring perhaps hundreds of support teachers into classroom jobs."

FSBA focuses on third-grade retention rules, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"In the aftermath of parents suing over Florida's third-grade promotion law, the Florida School Boards Association has called upon lawmakers to clarify the rules."

Pro-voucher forces claim victory in Florida state races, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"The Florida Education Association might have massively outspent pro-voucher groups in Florida's election cycle, but it's not the teacher union claiming victory after the ballot tally."
RELATED: Miami Rep. Bileca to head House education panel

Students process election aftermath at USF office of multicultural affairs, Claire McNeill
"In the tense, surreal hours after Donald Trump became Donald Trump, President-Elect, some University of South Florida students gathered in a room in the Marshall Student Center. The university's office of multicultural affairs posted on Facebook on Wednesday that it was offering ‘a space to breathe, process, grieve, laugh, cry, or sit silently with those that value inclusion.'"

Pasco investigates Wesley Chapel High teacher for Trump-related racial comment, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"One day after Donald Trump's election as president, some of the nastiness of the campaign has spilled into the hallways of Wesley Chapel High School."

Around the State

New computer program pinpoints student needs but does it add to test overload?, Sun-Sentinel, Lois K. Solomon
"Palm Beach County elementary schools have installed a new computerized learning system this year that pinpoints students' math and reading challenges in extraordinary detail and designs personalized lessons so they can catch up to grade level if they are behind. But the new system, called i-Ready, includes regular testing, often under other names such as ‘diagnostics,' ‘growth checks' and ‘scored activities,' which some parents and teachers say compounds the problem of testing overload."

State investigates if Duval complied with rule on school assignments, Florida Times-Union, Denise Smith Amos
"State education officials are investigating whether Duval County Public Schools complied with laws for reassigning students from schools that were closed or revamped after too many failing grades."

Parents say bullying stats don't match reality, Orlando Sentinel, Annie Martin
"Just two months into his first year of middle school, an 11-year-old Apopka boy had his pants pulled down in the locker room. A week later, a group of students pushed him to the ground during gym class and kicked him repeatedly, his mother says. ‘We're really lucky that no bones were broken,' said Tatiana Almeida, whose son was the target of the harassment at Apopka's Wolf Lake Middle School. ‘It's more of a wake-up call.' The other boys' words hurt too: They called him ‘a freak' and yelled at him to ‘go back to Mexico.' Even as schools across the country have ramped up efforts to fight bullying in recent years, parents, such as Almeida, say it persists. Some experts suggest that schools vastly understate the amount of bullying that occurs on their campuses."

$1.2 million reading program produces weak results, Gainesville Sun, Deborah Strange
"A reading intervention program Alachua County Public Schools has spent almost $1.2 million on was less helpful to struggling students than if they hadn't used it at all. In short: Those who didn't use the program learned more than those who did, according to school system data released to The Sun."

Other Views

He Holds the Future of US Public Education in His Hands, Education Week Teacher column, former Florida Teacher of the Year Megan Allen
"This article came across my Twitter feed, giving an overview of President-Elect Trump's education advisor and the K-12 transition team. One of the names rang out as familiar, and I immediately became a little bit more optimistic and about the future of public education. Just a little bit, but it's what I'm holding onto right now. It's my lifeboat."

A rural charter school rebounds by letting its teachers teach, Redefined blog, Travis Pillow
"In the summer of 2014, Joelene Vining took the leap to become a charter school principal. It may have been a risky move. She left a position as an assistant principal in neighboring Levy County to become head of the McIntosh Area School, a small elementary that's the pride of a hamlet northwest of Ocala. The school was rated an F by the state. If it didn't raise its grade quickly, it would have been forced to close. Vining started recruiting teachers to make the jump with her."

Despite state's mandate, school advisory councils losing funding, Citrus County Chronicle editorial
"Typically, the legislature funds what it thinks is most important. SACS, though mandated in law, are no longer funded. Are we to take away the message that lawmakers no longer think it's important for community members to be involved in problem-solving, planning, innovation and excellence in our public schools? Some of the most effective initiatives we've seen grew from SAC recommendations in school improvement plans. This is exactly the type of engagement that keeps our schools in the top percentage statewide, which is good for our students and important for county economic development, as well."

Will new leadership help homeless students?, Orlando Sentinel guest column, Vann Ellison
"New leadership to fight homelessness is an opportunity to address new challenges, and here is one hidden in plain sight: Just more than 71,000 Florida public-school students are homeless."

Coming Up

The Florida Board of Education meets Wednesday outside Orlando. It has a light agenda, consisting of a few minor rule amendments.

Newly elected school board members and superintendents across Florida take the oath of office on Nov. 22. As members-elect, they're already covered by state Sunshine Law.

[Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2016 2:58pm]


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