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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news, week of May 23, 2016

It's been another busy week in Florida education news. A circuit judge ruled that Florida's education funding model was indeed adequate. Parents in some counties started fighting their districts over third-grade retention decisions. A Pasco school banned a popular young adult novel. State leaders focused on further reducing costs for Florida's university students. And that's just the start. Check out the highlights below, and visit the Gradebook daily for the latest.

Top of the Times

Pasco superintendent will not ban challenged novel in all schools, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"A review committee's proposal to remove Stephen Chbosky's novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower from Pasco Middle School will stand, but only for that school, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe told the Gradebook."
COLUMN: Banning a book is the real obscenity in this case, John Romano

Florida third graders without reading test scores have few options for promotion, state says, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Parents in several Florida counties are getting angry as they receive word that their children face another year of third grade, despite their classroom performance."
RELATED: Students who opted out of testing could be retained, Herald-Tribune, Shelby Webb
"Third-grade students in Sarasota and Manatee counties who refused to take the state's standardized English Language Arts test and a subsequent alternative test will be held back, school officials say."
STATUTE: F.S. 1008.25

Families at endangered Pinellas charter schools struggle to find alternatives, Colleen Wright
"Parents of students at Windsor Prep and two related charter schools - East Windsor Middle Academy in St. Petersburg and Newpoint Pinellas Academy, a middle school in Clearwater - have been scrambling in recent days to find new options for their children, frantically trading notes on what their contingency plans are should their schools close."
RELATED: Charter school parents fear their zoned schools, so what do Pinellas School Board members say?, Colleen Wright

School enrollment surging again in Hillsborough, Pasco and across Florida, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"The brief respite from surging student enrollment is officially over for school districts across Florida."
BY THE NUMBERS: Education Estimating Conference, Public Schools PreK-12 Enrollment February 12, 2016

Around the State

Judge: School funding is 'adequate' and legal, Orlando Sentinel, Gray Rohrer
"Florida's funding for schools is ‘adequate' and in keeping with the state constitution, a Leon Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday." Read the final judgment

Feds: PBC assistant principal punished for getting pregnant, Palm Beach Post, Andrew Marra
"The U.S. Justice Department has accused Palm Beach Central High School's principal of illegally discriminating against an assistant principal at a school he previously ran by demoting her after she became pregnant."

Polk Schools' discrimination policy under review by federal agencies; grants withheld, The Ledger, Sara Drumm
"The Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice have pulled Polk's harassment and discrimination policies for review."

Group aims to curb expulsions, suspensions, Herald-Tribune, Shelby Webb
"As the Sarasota County School District wrestles with its position as one of the most prone to expel students in Florida, a group of law enforcement officials, attorneys, judges, school officials and academics is working to create a new program aimed at curbing the district's use of expulsions and out-of-school suspensions."

Interdistrict Enrollment Is Appealing But Tricky, Education Week, Sara Tully
"Florida schools are preparing for next year's rollout of one of the nation's most unrestricted open-enrollment laws allowing students to more easily cross district lines to go to school-a practice that has grown slowly nationwide amid both statutory and practical hurdles."

More college students paying double for excess credit hours, Orlando Sentinel, Gabrielle Russon
"About 3,770 students were charged about $2.35 million in excess credit-hour surcharges during the fall 2015 semester at UCF, University of Florida, Florida State and South Florida, school records show. A year earlier, only about 1,760 students paid about $851,120 in penalties at the four schools."

Other Views

Invest in students and teachers, not lawsuits and lawyers, Florida Politics guest column, Florida Tax Watch CEO Dominic Calabro
"Florida's push for education gains should be conducted in the classroom, not the courtroom. A Leon County judge's sweeping decision this week to protect education options for more than 70,000 students is an historic moment. It is critical that we work together and focus on helping students and teachers by strengthening scholarship and school options for students in need."

Judge rules against citizens and Florida spent $4m defending the status quo, Fund Education Now
"On May 24th, Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds ruled in favor of the State and against Citizens for Strong Schools following a four week trial in March.  As plaintiffs, we at Fund Education Now are disappointed Judge Reynolds felt Florida's funding inequities are not actionable and are deeply concerned that he failed to recognize the tremendous burden the state's Accountability system places on Florida's public school children. We strongly disagree with his decision and still believe that the state is failing to provide a high-quality education to every child."

2016 Third Grade FSA Scores, Honor Roll Students and Other Baloney, Accountabaloney blog
"Since Jeb Bush was governor, Florida has been the ‘leader' in mandatory 3rd grade retention and other ‘reform' policies. But, as my mother always said, just because they are leading does not mean anyone should be following."

Kudos to Negron for plans to restore Bright Futures, Palm Beach Post editorial
"Bright Futures has been dimming for far too long. Today, at risk is no less than the state having a top-flight university system that attracts and retains the best and brightest graduates from Florida high schools - both public and private."

Frustrated, talented teachers leave Florida classrooms in droves, Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell
"Noah David Lein has always loved teaching. And if you believe the state of Florida, the honors English teacher at Winter Springs High School is precisely the kind of instructor we want in our classrooms. He sparks kids' curiosity and was among only 4 percent of the region's teachers to receive the ‘Best and Brightest' bonus for ‘highly effective' teachers last year. Lein still loves opening students' minds and introducing them to complex thoughts. But not in Florida."

Why 10th Grade Should Be the New Senior Year, Education Week commentary, Blair Lybbert
"A fundamental redesign of secondary education that will maintain the benefits of the school improvement movement, while accommodating the needs of all students, is warranted. Consider the following proposal: Graduation from high school should be reset from the 12th grade to the 10th grade. Until completing the 10th grade, students would continue to be required to meet state accountability standards and course requirements."

Reports of Note

The State of Racial Diversity In the Educator Workforce, U.S. Department of Education
"The teaching force has become slightly more diverse in recent years. But recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimates that the elementary and secondary student population will continue to become less white and more diverse. Unless current trends change, moving forward the disparity between the racial makeup of students and teachers may increase further, fueling the need for substantially more progress in increasing teacher diversity."

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, As Amended By the Every Student Succeeds Act--Accountability and State Plans, U.S. Department of Education
"We are proposing these regulations to provide clarity and support to SEAs, LEAs, and schools as they implement the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA -- particularly, the ESEA requirements regarding accountability systems, State and LEA report cards, and consolidated State plans--and to ensure that key requirements in title I of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, are implemented consistent with the purpose of the law: ‘to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.'"

[Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2016 2:54pm]


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