Make us your home page


Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Oct. 1, 2016



Who would have thought the words "clown" and "threat" would become part of the Florida education news vernacular? Well, this past week the creepy clown craze affected Florida schools as much, if not more than, the threat of Hurricane Matthew, which shuttered most campuses on Friday. Other issues on the front burner this week included rumors of students attending schools using false addresses, tension in desegregation talks and an increase of substitute teachers running classrooms where no full-time educators could be found. Follow the Gradebook daily, and join the conversations on our new Facebook page.

Top of the Times

Tough punishment, and a lesson, for Northeast High senior who sent clown photo as a joke, Colleen Wright
"Inspiration struck Luke Boswell as he was working toward his Adobe Photoshop certification at Northeast High. His classmates in the school's Academy of Information Technology program were chatting Monday about their fears of clowns, so Boswell, an 18-year-old senior, went out to the courtyard and snapped a photo with his smart phone. He came back inside, uploaded the photo, searched for an image of a clown on Google, and superimposed the clown behind a tree with the school as a backdrop as a joke. With Halloween just weeks away, and after a Saturday night out at Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream, Boswell wanted to share his handiwork with his friends. He tweeted the photo with the caption ‘Today at Nehi: (when you see it).' Boswell didn't know it at the time, but his tweet was part of a one-day wave that helped bring a nationwide scare over predatory clowns to St. Petersburg."
RELATED: Pasco deputies: 12-year-old arrested as an adult for making clown threats

Here's what a public school air conditioning crisis feels like, Marlene Sokol
"What does a public school air conditioning crisis look like? It's 5-year-old Adrian Kirby at Deer Park Elementary, cheeks flushed, hair matted, beads of sweat forming as he tries to concentrate on sight words. It's his fellow kindergarteners raising their hands, because they need to go to the bathroom, because they've been guzzling water all day."

Is your kid in the wrong school? The district may soon may be on to you, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"School districts have not made a habit of regularly double-checking student addresses over the years. Parents typically provide documents when first enrolling, and never submit them again. So schools can't say with certainty how many kids don't belong. But as competition for seats heats up, often driven by Florida's population growth, some districts are becoming more vigilant about who is in their schools - and Pasco may be the latest to join them."
RELATED: Warn homebuyers about school rezonings, Pasco superintendent urges real estate brokers

Friction mars talks in legal battle over Pinellas black students, Cara Fitzpatrick
"For the second time since settling 16 years ago, the plaintiffs in a 50-year-old desegregation case have forced the Pinellas County School District back to the table to try to ensure that black children get an equal education. The meetings, which started in August, have been tense, even hostile. So much so that the lawyers for the plaintiffs, Enrique Escarraz and Roger Plata, said Friday that they were considering going to the next step in the legal process and calling in a mediator."

Around the State

How The FCAT Helped Deplete Miami's High School Marching Bands, WLRN, Rowan Moore Gerety
"Little learned flute in a public middle school, and her children picked up French horn and clarinet. But many middle schools don't have band programs anymore, a change driven largely by new accountability measures introduced in 2008 linked to statewide standardized tests. The state now requires middle schoolers with low reading and math scores to take ‘intervention' classes to catch up."If there's no room in their schedule since the state requires them to take an intensive reading or an intensive math class," explained Lisette Alves, a deputy superintendent in Miami-Dade schools, then band class would be first to go."

Taking the edge off Florida's new open-enrollment rule, Palm Beach Post, Andrew Marra
"Now, instead of having to ask for permission or hope to get lucky in the annual choice lottery, students are presumed to have the right to attend the school of their choice, so long as the school has space to accommodate them. Having space, though, is a big caveat. Many schools that are popular with parents - Palm Beach Public Elementary and Dreyfoos School of the Arts, for instance - are already over capacity according to the state's formula, meaning that the new rule would have no effect there."

New Teachers Make Up a Significant Segment of Profession, Education Week, Stephen Sawchuck and Anthony Rebora
"According to Education Week's analysis of the OCR data, Florida reported the highest proportion of novice teachers in the country, with about a quarter of its teachers in their first or second years. The District of Columbia and Colorado, both with nearly 18 percent of their teaching forces qualifying as new, also came in at the top of the list."

Teacher shortage prompts worries from Orange parents, Orlando Sentinel, Annie Martin
"‘Substitute hopping' is becoming a back-to-school tradition for Tracy Barkman's family. One instructor will take the helm of her daughter's class at Kaley Lake Como Elementary School, only to be replaced by another after a few days or weeks. Barkman, a frequent volunteer at the school, remembers a similar situation last year, describing what she saw as ‘a mess.'"

Independent charter schools fight new rule on eligibility for capital funding, Politico Florida, Jessica Bakeman
"An advocacy group representing independent charter schools is challenging a newly adopted state regulation that limits the institutions' eligibility for capital funding."

Other Views

The value of school attendance is clear, Herald-Tribune columnist Kathy Silverberg
"Missing school is a problem for too many children. It is estimated that children from low-income households are four times more likely to be chronically absent from school than their more affluent classmates. Research has shown that children who miss 10 percent of the school year - that's just two days a month - are far less likely to be able to read proficiently by the end of the third grade."

A Florida Perspective: School district employees like school choice, too, Ledger guest column, Ron Matus of Step Up For Students
"This fall, tens of thousands of parents are using Florida tax credit scholarships to send their children to private schools. More than 1,200 of them work for school districts.That's a lot of support from public school employees for a program the Florida teachers union is trying to kill."

Respect is necessary to retain our teachers, Sun-Sentinel guest column, Hal Krantz of the Broward Teachers Union
"Teachers in Florida feel that our state government, as you put it, has no appreciation for what teachers do on a day-to-day basis. Florida is one of the most underfunded states when it comes to education, and there doesn't seem to be any change in the attitude to correct this. The salary structure of most Florida counties is turning off new teachers, and is also turning away teachers from going into the field. Teaching is no longer a second job; teaching is a full-time job regardless of whether you're single or married - both salaries are needed to exist on a day-to-day basis."

Teacher incentive proposal merits an A-plus, Citrus County Chronicle editorial
"State legislators are urged to support the State Board of Education's call to replace the ‘best and brightest' bonus program by adopting the board's budget proposal. That would clearly be a better incentive for recruiting and retaining the top teachers, especially amid a growing national teacher shortage. The best incentive, however, would be for legislators to respect the viewpoints of educators by talking with them when developing education legislation rather than talking down to them with misguided legislation that does more harm than good."

Reports of Note

Study Finds Students Of All Races Prefer Teachers Of Color, NPR Education, Anya Kamenetz
"Now [Hua-Yu Sebastian] Cherng is a sociologist at New York University and he's just published a paper with colleague Peter Halpin that addresses this question. It seems that students of all races - white, black, Latino, and Asian - have more positive perceptions of their black and Latino teachers than they do of their white teachers."

ESSA: Mapping opportunities for the arts, Education Commission of the States
"The programs of Title I, Part A of ESSA are designed to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education. The evidenced-based educational programs supported by Title I funds support students who are academically at risk and help close the achievement gap. With the new flexibility established by ESSA, there are a number of opportunities for engaging the arts in these educational priorities. As was true with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), districts can only supplement and not replace funds that they would have otherwise spent with money from the more than $15 billion of federal funds authorized for the Title I, Part A programs in 2017."

Nationwide Assessment of Charter and Education Management Organizations , U.S. Department of Education
"We determined that charter school relationships with CMOs posed a significant risk to Department program objectives. Specifically, we found that 22 of the 33 charter schools in our review had 36 examples of internal control weaknesses related to the charter schools' relationships with their CMOs (concerning conflicts of interest, related-party transactions, and insufficient segregation of duties)."

[Last modified: Friday, October 7, 2016 10:00am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours