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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news, week of Feb. 7, 2016



The world of Florida education news got testy this past week. We had parents angry over the apparent death of a bill that would have mandated daily recess in elementary schools. We saw House and Senate members battle over budgets, taxes and construction funding. And 2015 school grades finally arrived to a collective shrug after groups spent months criticizing the system. Visit the Gradebook every day for the latest on these and other education stories.

Top of the Times

Recess bill won't get Senate hearing, Education Committee chairman says, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"The push to mandate 20 minutes of daily recess in Florida's elementary schools, which passed three House committees without opposition, won't be heard by the Senate Education Committee this session. ‘I am not going to put it on the agenda,' committee chairman Sen. John Legg said. ‘It doesn't merit a Tallahassee solution.'"

Florida Senate proposes reforming charter schools' capital funding, Kristen M. Clark
"Responding to a controversial plan fast-tracked by Miami Republican Rep. Erik Fresen, a Florida Senate subcommittee is proposing its own reforms to how much school districts can spend on capital costs and what access the state's 650 charter schools should have to state and local dollars."
RELATED: Rep. Erik Fresen's close ties to charter schools continue to raise questions of conflict, Kristen M. Clark and Christina Veiga

Florida's 2015 school grades are out; here's what you need to know, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Those frequent alterations led even the most ardent school grading and accountability proponents to question whether the model had outlived its usefulness. They demanded a simpler, more transparent system - the results of which we see today with the release 2015 school grades."
REPORT: School Grades 2015

Teachers, new and experienced, leaving Hernando at higher rates, Dan DeWitt
"The highly publicized complaints of Florida teachers leaving the profession - most recently 27-year veteran Tracey Suits of Pasco County - were reflected in statistics recently released by the Hernando County School District."

Hillsborough tells federal officials it has worked to fix racial disparities in schools, Marlene Sokol
"The Hillsborough County school district is seeking to "voluntarily resolve" a major federal discrimination complaint, saying it has made progress in how it treats minority students."

Around the State

Roll call woes: Bay District Schools grappling with chronic absences, Panama City News Herald, Eryn Dion
"Every morning, a fleet of big yellow buses rolls out across Bay County, collecting students from their homes and transporting them to school. But there are a large number of seats on those buses that are empty not because students are walking to school or riding their bikes - but because they're simply not attending."

Duette Education Foundation to cease operating Duette Elementary School, Bradenton Herald, Meghin Delaney
"The last remaining one-room schoolhouse in the state of Florida -- located in Manatee County on State Road 62 -- will most likely cease operation next year."

Collier schools push 2016 start date to Aug. 15, Naples Daily News, Melhor Leonor
"In response to hundreds of comments and over 1,300 online signatures, Collier County school officials voted unanimously to push the start of the upcoming school year from Aug. 10 to Aug. 15."

Scholarship implementation creates district divisions, Port St. Joe Star, Tim Croft
"A state program to reward excellent teachers has visited its controversies on Gulf District Schools. The recent awarding of one-time bonuses of over $8,000 to more than two dozen teachers, overwhelmingly based out of Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School, has created ‘dissension' among the ranks of district instructors, as noted by district staff in emails on the subject."

Reports of Note

Generating Opportunity and Prosperity: The Promise of Rural Education Collaboratives, Batelle for Kids
"We face two essential questions: 1 How can America compete globally without unduly increasing rural brain drain, decreasing local economic prosperity, and threatening the ecological vitality of our land? 2 How can we strengthen the rural economy through educational innovation, job creation, and wealth generation? These questions require an honest look at how we invest in rural educational opportunity and economic prosperity."

From Excuses to Excellence, Florida Chamber of Commerce
"If we have learned one thing in 21 years, it is that many groups seek to oppose accountability and are seemingly unaware of global competition. Every reform, large or small, was opposed by either unions or superintendents, or both, undermining our future workforce. So it stands to reason why leading groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce put education reform at the top of its annual Competitiveness Agenda."

School-to-Prison Pipeline, American Bar Association
"Key segments of the U.S. student population that are most in need of support from schools instead are being siphoned off into the criminal justice system, says a report that was issued in preliminary form Friday in conjunction with a program at the 2016 ABA Midyear Meeting San Diego."

Other Views

School-transfer bills have no place in Florida, Citrus County Chronicle editorial
"Two bills moving through the Florida Legislature would effectively allow students to transfer, without penalty, to a school of their choice. It is yet another example of state lawmakers meddling in education with no consideration for the fallout from unintended consequences, or perhaps they are aware and couldn't care less."

No school recess? ... Gimme a break!, Palm Beach Post columnist Rick Christie
"Our now regular 10-hour work days are so packed with meetings, etc. - dictated by an ever-present smartphone - that we think taking a 30-minute break is tantamount to a mortal sin ... Gasp! It makes you wonder if we've now pushed this attitude off on our kids a little too much. Not the work ethic, mind you. But the never-stopping-to-take-a-break part."

Debate over mandatory recess exposes folly of education "uniformity", Florida Politics op-ed, William Mattox of the J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options
"The Florida Constitution has a well-meaning, but absolutely nutty clause that says our state's educational system must be "uniform." The clause is well meaning because it's designed to promote fairness and prevent favoritism. But it's absolutely nutty because it fails to treat Florida students as individuals with unique needs, interests, abilities and learning styles."

Why do legislators wish they were school board members?, Daytona Beach News-Journal columnist Mark Lane
"Every time the Florida Legislature comes up with new school legislation, I'm thankful that my kids and I are safely out of Florida public schools. Students are very different and have different needs. Yet every time the Legislature meets, it comes up with new way to micromanage the curriculum. It throws new graduation requirements, testing and rules for teachers. I'm not sure how we'd fare in the current system."

Bills on the Move

HB 5001, General Appropriations -- Passed the House, amended by the Senate, sent to conference
HB 5003, General Appropriations Implementing  -- Passed the House, amended by the Senate, sent to conference

Student funding
SB 834, by Sen. Nancy Detert -- Passed second of three committees

High school athletics
SB 1026, by Sen. David Simmons -- Passed second of three committees (House related bill is on Second Reading)

Computer coding
SB 468, by Sen. Jeremy Ring -- Placed on Special Order Calendar

On the Agenda

The Florida Senate Education Committee won't be meeting, while Senate and House leaders discuss potential compromises on legislation already passed through the system. The Education Appropriations committees of both chambers, which are at odds over construction funding and charter school capital funding, are both scheduled to meet Wednesday.

The House Education Committee has time set Thursday to meet.

The Florida Board of Education meets Thursday in Tallahassee, where it will consider amendments to the state math standards, among other issues.

[Last modified: Saturday, February 13, 2016 7:47pm]


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