Sunday, July 15, 2018
Education

Panel on racial disparities in Hillsborough schools tries to get back on track

TAMPA — Starting from square one, a task force on African-American students in Hillsborough County tried Monday to get to the heart of continuing disparities in learning and discipline.

Task force members named a long list of issues including poverty, teacher turnover and varying opinions on punctuality.

Should kids be suspended when they are late? "If you are tardy at work, you will be unemployed," said Lewis Brinson, who recently returned on a contract basis as assistant superintendent.

Michael Pheneger of the American Civil Liberties Union said the result is that kids miss even more school. "It's almost inevitable that if you have an out-of-school suspension, bad things will happen to you," he said.

For more than a year, educators and community leaders have been meeting off and on to try to give the district some direction in curing these gaps.

At the most recent meeting, members agreed the effort was so adrift that they needed a facilitator to get them on track.

Glen Gilzean, a former member of the Pinellas County School Board, stepped into that role. He said he hopes the group can have something to show the district by March.

Members include Saba Baptiste, education chair of the local NAACP chapter; Michael Dove, representing the organization 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay; former magnet schools administrator and high school teacher Jennifer Morley; and Henry Ballard, a business owner who used to run the district's minority purchasing department.

They've already discussed some of the topics — such as the large numbers of suspensions for tardiness and the vague category of inappropriate behavior — at length.

Member Manny Rivero, executive director of the Jim Walter Partnership Center at the University of South Florida, said it's important to keep the group together, after it reports to the district, to ensure continued change.

"If this is a committee where we're going to put our findings into a nice, glossy report, check the boxes and go home, we're wasting our time," he said.

The task force is meeting as the federal Office of Civil Rights investigates the district stemming from a complaint by community activist Marilyn Williams, alleging minority students are shortchanged when it comes to both education and discipline.

Although Williams is not on the task force, she attended Monday's meeting.

"I was a little bit surprised that the focus was 100 percent on discipline," she said told the group. "How you frame a problem has a strong effect on the kind of solution you come up with."

She recommended the district consider national research on student engagement.

Members agreed in general to look at models in the criminal justice system that are designed to affect behavior without overly punishing; and to enlist student opinions.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol

Comments
Hillsborough headed for a new mark: 25,000 charter school students

Hillsborough headed for a new mark: 25,000 charter school students

TAMPA — Three more charter schools will join the Hillsborough County system this year, pushing the number of students in these tax-funded, but privately operated institutions to well over 10 percent of the enrollment.District officials predict that 2...
Published: 07/13/18
District 3 candidates see challenges and potential for Pinellas schools

District 3 candidates see challenges and potential for Pinellas schools

A three-term incumbent, an educational specialist with a doctorate in school counseling and a teacher with 33 years of classroom experience are vying for the countywide District 3 seat on the Pinellas County School Board.All three have clear ideas on...
Published: 07/12/18

Pasco moms ask school district for more anti-discrimination efforts and training

Sheena Lofton-Huggins saw her son struggle this past year dealing with racism and prejudice at Mitchell High School. He didn’t have all the support he needed, Lofton-Huggins said, or the strategies to stand firm. When she sought to send her son to Co...
Published: 07/11/18
If they win this game show, young people can have their student debt paid off

If they win this game show, young people can have their student debt paid off

NEW YORK - Student debt afflicts as many as 44 million Americans, with the average student now carrying $37,000 in loans. The total amount owed in the United States exceeds $1.3 trillion.Of all the ideas to solve this crisis, a game show might not be...
Published: 07/09/18
Three with varied experience vie for Pinellas School Board District 2 seat

Three with varied experience vie for Pinellas School Board District 2 seat

Three candidates hope to land the at-large District 2 seat on the Pinellas County School Board: a parent who works in the performing arts, a middle school reading teacher and a former principal who’s served on the board since 2010.They agree on a few...
Published: 07/05/18
Updated: 07/12/18
Pinellas education news: School Board candidate forums, ancient brew at USFSP, and more

Pinellas education news: School Board candidate forums, ancient brew at USFSP, and more

Meet the candidates for Pinellas School Board The public is invited to three forums showcasing this year’s candidates for the Pinellas County School Board. All three events are sponsored by the Pinellas Education Foundation, St. Petersburg College, P...
Published: 07/05/18
Updated: 07/11/18
Robotics teams pave way for STEM interest

Robotics teams pave way for STEM interest

TAMPA — When the combined robotic teams from Jesuit High School and Academy of the Holy Names met 2-year-old Theo Rimes at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, the students’ eyes lit up.Known as the Stealth Tigers, they surrounded Theo as he sped around...
Published: 07/05/18
Updated: 07/08/18
Bach to Rock music school turns music lessons into a group activity in Lutz

Bach to Rock music school turns music lessons into a group activity in Lutz

LUTZ — When Rick Schmidt opens his new music school, Bach To Rock, platinum awards, autographed items and guitars from musicians with Florida connections to Florida will adorn the walls. With more than 20 years in the radio and music industry, Schmid...
Published: 07/05/18
Epilogue: Ruskin E. Reddoch coached his Tarpon Springs players on and off the field

Epilogue: Ruskin E. Reddoch coached his Tarpon Springs players on and off the field

Rusty, coach, dad, grandpa and great grandpa are just a few of the names Ruskin E. Reddoch went by over his 99 years. He had just celebrated his 73rd wedding anniversary with his wife, Marjorie, days before falling ill. Mr. Reddoch died June 11. He w...
Published: 07/05/18
All (yes, all) students in Hernando schools will get free breakfast and lunch through 2022

All (yes, all) students in Hernando schools will get free breakfast and lunch through 2022

BROOKSVILLE — Every student in Hernando County will have access to free breakfast and lunch at school through 2022, thanks to an unlikely helper: Hurricane Irma.The federal Community Eligibility Provision program, which offers meal assistance for sch...
Published: 07/05/18