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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 25, 2016



In Florida education news this week, Hernando County schools took a step away from their insistence that third graders have a state reading test score to be promoted to fourth grade. A Pasco County mom began her fight against Florida's requirement that students in the state's lowest performing elementary schools get an extra hour of daily reading instruction. And Polk County teachers spoke out against the state's heavy reliance on test scores in their performance evaluations. Read about these and other Florida education news stories daily on the Gradebook.

Top of the Times

Hernando rethinking its tough stance on third-grade advancement, Dan DeWitt
"The Hernando County School District's hard line on third-grade promotions may be showing some cracks. At the last School Board meeting, deputy superintendent Gina Michalicka said the state has approved a computer testing program called i-Ready - normally given three times a year to check whether students are working at grade level - to help determine whether third-graders are skilled enough to advance to fourth grade."

Hot schools and crushing debt spell daunting decisions in the Hillsborough schools, Marlene Sokol
"Crushing debt and deferred maintenance are coming home to roost in the Hillsborough County public schools, where faulty air conditioners are leaving some children too hot to learn. The problem is a symptom of school system in the grips of a growing financial crisis, cutting costs as it struggles to maintain its reserves and keep up with debt payments on long-ago borrowing to build schools."
EDITORIAL: Answers needed on Hillsborough schools' financial crisis

Pasco mom fights extra reading hour at her son's elementary school, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Tyler Woodland has never had a problem with reading. His test scores at Pasco's Richey Elementary School showed him consistently at or above grade level, with his comprehension accuracy regularly above 90 percent. The fifth grader earned a 3 on his Florida Standards Assessment in language arts last year. His school, however, didn't perform as well overall. It landed among the state's lowest 300 on reading, and as a result had to add an hour of daily reading instruction. That state mandate has Tyler's mom, Cathy DiBona, up in arms."

Tony Dungy tells Pinellas students: 'Think about your future', Cara Fitzpatrick
"Travaughn Harrington, an 18-year-old linebacker at Gibbs, said that Dungy's message resonated with him. He wants to go to college and play college football. He also gave Dungy one of the more pointed questions of the event, asking why, if racism wasn't a factor in education, black children are disproportionately suspended and expelled. Dungy said ‘racism is there' - and he had to fight against it to become a coach in the National Football League - but he advised Harrington not to let other people's behavior keep him from reaching his goals. Dungy was a coach for 31 years, winning the Super Bowl in 2007 with the Indianapolis Colts. He was the Bucs head coach from 1996 to 2001, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. ‘Don't use it as an excuse,' he told Harrington."

Around the State

Broward promotes twins who opted out of state test, Sun-Sentinel, Scott Travis
"It  took a legal battle but twins Dylan and Jadyn Paternoster on Monday returned to Manatee Bay Elementary as fourth-graders despite the principal's objections."

Polk teachers: We are more than value-added model scores, The Ledger, Madison Fantozzi
"But PEA President Marianne Capoziello said teachers are upset and some are considering leaving. One of the 35 teachers forced to move out of the five schools resigned, but the specific reason for his or her resignation from Kathleen Middle is unknown. ‘Teachers are undervalued and vilified for everything,' Capoziello said. ‘Some are so embarrassed and worried, they don't want to stay in Florida because in Florida teachers are branded by their VAM scores. If there's a problem with a single test, it's off with their heads.'"

Tensions high after Broward high school organizes work-to-rule for teachers, WSVN, Vanessa Medina
"A high school teacher in Parkland organized a work-to-rule, or ‘Work to the Contract Weeks,' action at her school, which has sparked tensions between teachers and parents."

Lunch ladies, move over: Lunch dudes coming in, Northwest Florida Daily News, Leah Johnson
"In Santa Rosa County School District, district officials say they are seeing an increase in men entering school food services, an industry widely populated by women. Neither Walton nor Okaloosa county schools are seeing the same trend. ‘My assumption is ... we are the perfect hours,' Director of Food Service Leslie Bell said. ‘We are Monday through Friday. We are done by 3 or 4 p.m. every day. Men are starting to go "wait a minute."'"

Other Views

Christian school fighting for loudspeaker at football games should be wary, columnist Joe Henderson
"Imagine a scene the next time two Christian high schools play for the state title in a publicly owned facility. They want to pray over the loudspeaker. Permission granted. And right after they are done asking for Divine protection and blessings, a group of Satanists demand the microphone and equal time to present a counter-argument. Ridiculous example, right? Not really."

Designing Florida's next teacher bonuses, Tampa Bay Times editorial
"Florida's education budget is usually bare to the bone, so it is particularly foolish to give bonuses to teachers partially based on their SAT scores back in high school. Thankfully, the state Board of Education wants to stop squandering millions that could be better spent training and rewarding teachers who demonstrably are achieving exceptional results with their students today. Now that the board wants to move away from this flawed scheme, the trick is to create a sensible plan to spend the money on teachers who have the most to give their students."

Time to stop fighting school choice, Florida Politics guest column, Grace of God Baptist Church pastor Mark Coats
"Despite what some of you have heard, the scholarship does not pit public schools against private schools, or force a false choice between the two. We must do all we can to bolster our public schools. At the same time, we must continue to empower low-income parents with options."

Florida's Intuitive Letter Grades Produce Results, Education Next guest column, former Florida governor Jeb Bush
"An effective accountability system also requires that parents have a clear and concise measure of school performance. They should not have to struggle through confusing mazes of charts and spreadsheets to find out if their children are in a good learning environment. To get there, we begin with a simple, comprehensive, actionable score that captures the overall success of a school in advancing academic achievement. The most intuitive approach for parents is grading schools on an A‒F scale."

To avert teacher shortage, show some respect , Sun-Sentinel editorial
"The basic problem, for Florida and many other states, is that the teaching profession is not as attractive as it once was. Not as many college students are graduating from education programs. Many who do leave teaching within just a few years. It does not help that Florida's lawmakers and governors too often have treated public teachers like the enemy. That has been particularly true as the state implemented its never-ending variations on high-stakes testing."

Reports of Note

"Increased state and federal investment in high-quality early childhood education has emerged as a bipartisan priority for Florida voters. A new poll conducted by the First Five Years Fund shows that strong majorities of Republicans, Independents and Democrats want to invest in a range of state initiatives, including: better standards and training for early childhood teachers; home and community education for parents who want to improve health and education outcomes for their children; and $85 million in funding to make sure children get quality child care and early learning."

Analysis of initial stakeholder input for the development of Florida's State Plan To implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), reported to the Florida Department of Education
"Most respondents were in favor of ESSA, pointing to potential improvements in assessment, curricula, funding, reaching students with learning challenges, as well as supporting English Language Learners. Most urged the use of school and community resources, continuing Florida practices, and providing accommodations in testing."

Charter Public Schools Serving Hispanic Communities, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
"With over 12 million Hispanic children in American public schools today, it is clear that the Hispanic population will have a significant role in the country's future.1 While district public schools still continue to serve the majority of Hispanic students, an increasing number of Hispanic families are choosing to enroll in charter public schools. As new charter schools continue to open their doors in neighborhoods with concentrated Hispanic populations, they are also investing in the future of the Hispanic community."

[Last modified: Friday, September 30, 2016 11:55pm]


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