ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 11, 2016
This week, Florida's education news had something for everyone -- corporate tax credit scholarships, recess, National Anthem, teacher pay, Gay-Straight Alliance and more. Read these stories and others, and visit the Gradebook daily for the latest on Florida's education.
Top of the Times
FEA appeals ruling on Florida's tax credit scholarship, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"The Florida Education Association has not given up its battle against the state's corporate tax credit scholarship program, which allows about 90,000 low-income students to attend private schools."
DOCUMENT: Motion to Invoke Discretionary Jurisdiction
Clerical jobs to go first as Hillsborough school officials look for more budget cuts, Marlene Sokol
"About 50 clerical workers in the Hillsborough County School District's central offices have had their jobs eliminated and are looking for other district positions as officials look to steer more money to classrooms."
Pasco teachers 'migrating as fast as they can,' union leader says, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"With the Pasco County school district's budget up for approval Tuesday, several teachers stepped up to tell the School Board that its 2.65 percent raise offer, while appreciated, wasn't enough."
Judge rejects motion to force schools' hands in Florida third-grade retention lawsuit, Jeffrey S. Solochek
Hoping to get some action for the plaintiffs' children, most of whom enrolled in private or home school rather than return to third grade, their lawyer asked Gievers to vacate the stay during the appeal. ...In a ruling issued Thursday and obtained Tuesday by the Gradebook, Gievers denied the request.
DOCUMENT: Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion
Hillsborough school growth numbers show crowding in some areas, empty seats in others, Marlene Sokol
"On the 20th day of this school year, a new charter school in Riverview was bustling with 754 students. SouthShore Charter Academy, the fourth Hillsborough County school managed by the for-profit Charter Schools USA, brought the number of charter students in the district up to 17,939 this school year. But SouthShore's success doesn't just illustrate the popularity of state-funded, privately managed schools. It also reveals a growing disparity: Urban schools are bleeding students while there is a growing need for schools to serve the suburbs of Citrus Park, New Tampa and Ruskin."
Around the State
First Amendment lawyers: Lely can't force students to stand during national anthem, Naples Daily News, Annika Hammerschlag
"A Collier County principal who ordered students last week to stand during the national anthem violated U.S. Supreme Court rulings on free speech, First Amendment lawyers said Thursday."
Appeals court hears arguments over Carver GSA, Daily Commercial, Livi Stanford
"The United States Federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit heard oral arguments Thursday challenging a federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit in August 2015 against the Lake County School District over its refusal to allow a gay-straight alliance at Carver Middle School."
East Lee teacher suspended for sharing religious views, Fort Myers News-Press, Pamela McCabe
"A JROTC instructor from East Lee County High School has been suspended without pay and could lose his job for sharing his religious beliefs on gender identity during class."
Recess fight will move back to Tallahassee, Orlando Sentinel, Leslie Postal
"After nearly two years, the ‘recess moms' can claim victory in Orange County, where the local school board is set to require daily recess in all public elementary schools. Now these mothers, who created the advocacy group Recess for all Florida Children, plan to turn their attention back to Tallahassee, urging the Legislature to pass a recess law in its 2017 session."
Why the arts matter so much to kids' education, Florida Today guest column, Neil Levine of the Brevard Cultural Alliance
"Why does arts education matter? Because it is proven that a wide variety of art disciplines - including music, drama and visual arts - significantly increase students' understanding of non-art-related topics such as math, science and history. Studies show that the arts also increase students' overall motivation to learn and foster creativity and innovation."
Teachers union fights to limit education options, Sun-Sentinel guest column, Teresa Mull of the Heartland Institute
"It seems obvious that when given the ability to choose between having a choice and not having a choice, everyone would prefer to have a choice. But not everyone thinks giving parents a choice in how to educate their children is a good idea. The Florida Education Association (FEA), the state's largest teachers union, has for the better part of the past two years been waging a war against Florida's Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which is designed to give students from low-income households the chance to attend a better school."
As the Family Goes, So Go the Public Schools, National Review, W. Bradford Wilcox
"When it comes to education, Florida faces a paradox: Its public schools are highly rated, but its students register just average scores and high suspension rates. The Urban Institute in a recent report finds that, when adjusted for demographics, Florida ranked in the top ten states for student performance in math and reading performance, although its unadjusted scores were slightly below average. Strong inputs, middling outcomes. What gives?"
Reports of Note
A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S., Learning Policy Institute
"More than 10 times as many teachers in Indiana and Florida strongly agreed their job security was impacted by the performance of their students or school on state or local tests as in Vermont and North Dakota (25-26% vs. 2%)."
RELATED STORY: Wanted: More teachers to fill growing classroom shortages, Miami Herald, Kyra Gurney
How Can So Many Students Be Invisible? Large Percentages of American Students Perform Above Grade Level, Institute for Education Policy
"Currently, the evidence suggests that between 15% and 45% of students enter the late-elementary classroom each fall already performing at least one year ahead of expectations. Our initial question - How many students are learning above grade level? - needs to be extended. The more important questions may be:
How should we reorganize our schools, now that we know that large numbers of these students exist?
How can we best meet these students' learning needs, if they already have mastered much of the year's content before the year has even started? And lastly,
How can schools balance the potential for excellence against the need to achieve basic proficiency, when the variation in student achievement within classrooms and schools is so vast?"