Friday, April 20, 2018
Education

Scott visits Tampa high school, blames Crist for college tuition increases

TAMPA — College is expensive. Rick Scott wants to keep his job.

Those two facts shared the same orbit Wednesday at a Tampa high school, where the governor chatted with teens about college plans while blaming his opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, for the debt they will incur.

"One thing that I'm trying to do now is undo the increases that were caused by this last administration," said Scott, seated in a circle with five teens and six parents in Jefferson High School's media center.

Outside the ring of chairs, a bank of television cameras paid attention. On the other side of a bookcase, school staffers listened in. Before anyone uttered the first word, the event was already under scrutiny.

School Board member April Griffin put out a statement a few hours earlier questioning whether students were being used as campaign props.

As it turned out, the students — Linda Bamba, 17, Pedro Hernandez, 17, Aarian Moore, 16, Julisa Inoa, 16, and Daniel Erickson, 16 — did all actually seem to agree that college is expensive.

"It gives me a headache," Bamba said, when the governor asked if she has considered how much she will need to borrow.

Scott finished college and law school without debt, he said, and his first semester of community college cost just $200.

This news didn't seem to make anyone feel better.

Moore, considering an aerospace technology career, said the message at home is that if he works hard enough, he will get a scholarship.

Inoa, who wants to be an FBI agent, isn't sure how she'll pay for college. She sees her mother juggle $40,000 in deferred college loans of her own while trying to support two teens.

"I'm not going to live the rest of my life having to pay back school loans and having to live paycheck by paycheck," the daughter said.

Scott asked the students if they had given thought to whether their desired fields of study will lead to jobs that pay enough for them to be able to repay loans.

"You're in 11th grade and you want to study accounting?" he asked Hernandez. "I took 18 hours of accounting. You can get a job for sure."

Bamba dreams of broadcast journalism. But she thinks accounting or banking might be more sensible.

"I feel like I have to push away what I really wanted to do — what I have a passion for — and just settle for what can pay off my loans," she told Scott.

The governor didn't try to dissuade her.

He asked if any of them had friends who couldn't go to college because of tuition increases. He said Florida Prepaid College Plans now cost families more than $350 a month, even spread out over an entire childhood. He asked if they thought 15 percent tuition increases — which occurred under Crist — were realistic.

No one leaped at the chance to endorse expensive tuition.

After the gathering, Scott took a few questions from reporters but did not answer them directly.

For instance, one reporter asked about School Board member Griffin's concern. Was Scott using students as props?

"It's exciting to be here," he said. "I'm here to hear their stories. Tuition is too high. Charlie Crist raised tuition."

Another reporter asked if the event was a campaign event, which would violate School Board policy.

"Gosh," Scott replied, "what we're doing is listening to students, listening to parents about the cost of tuition."

Patty Ryan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.

Comments
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts today

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts today

High school students from around the Tampa Bay area are participating in the National School Walkout today commemorating the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 and calling for gun law reform.A large group of students from St. Petersburg High g...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

High school students from both sides of Tampa Bay will commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings on Friday, although in very different ways. In St. Petersburg, students from several schools will gather at noon at City Hall f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teachers’ aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer...
Published: 04/19/18
Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

LARGO — Starting soon, Pinellas County public schools could be using a nationwide violence prevention program founded by families of those killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2012.The nonprofit group Sandy Hook Promise, with ...
Published: 04/19/18

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teacher aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer p...
Published: 04/18/18
After Parkland, these students became activists. Will their movement last?

After Parkland, these students became activists. Will their movement last?

TAMPA — Sam Sharf’s parents thought he had the best position on the Plant High School football team. As back-up quarterback, he could impress the girls but rarely played enough to get hurt.Now a junior, Sharf is off the team so he can focus his energ...
Published: 04/18/18

Gannon University’s Ruskin growth includes $21 million addition

RUSKIN — Gannon University is experiencing some serious growing pains and as a result, SouthShore is going to see a big change in the landscape. When it opened its doors in 2015 as a satellite campus for its home school in Erie, Pa., Gannon occupied ...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Enrollment growth anticipated for Pasco County charter schools, with two more to open in the fall

Most of Pasco County’s more established charter schools expect to see their student population remain stable in 2018-19.Even so, enrollment in the county’s charter schools is expected to grow by about 1,100 children — or nearly 25 percent — in the fa...
Published: 04/17/18
Sunlake High sophomore wins summer scholarship to Ringling College of Art and Design

Sunlake High sophomore wins summer scholarship to Ringling College of Art and Design

LAND O’ LAKES — As a child, Taylor Young started doodling with crayons as a hobby. Now at age 16, this Sunlake High School sophomore has received a full scholarship, valued at $6,000, to attend the Ringling College of Art and Design Summer Pre-Colleg...
Published: 04/16/18
Manatee County high school student calls for ‘bracott’

Manatee County high school student calls for ‘bracott’

A Florida high school student who said she was told to cover up her nipples after not wearing a bra to school is planning a protest in response. Lizzy Martinez’ "bracott" will take place today at Braden River High in Manatee County, according to Twit...
Published: 04/16/18