Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Good news for Hillsborough schools

A survey released today that ranks Hillsborough County as a top-rated urban school district reflects the good work being done in the country’s eighth-largest school system. Students are outperforming many of their peers across the nation, resulting in an emerging workforce that is better prepared to compete and attract higher paying jobs to the region. The district needs to reinforce this performance with a strategy for stabilizing its finances. Hillsborough will need to keep its academic offerings and campus infrastructure in top shape if it hopes to sustain these achievements.

Hillsborough fourth-graders tied for first place among large school districts nationally in reading and math, while eighth-graders tied for first in reading and second place in math. The results, announced today by the National Center for Education Statistics, the primary federal entity for analyzing education-related data, is part of a national initiative known as "The Nation’s Report Card." Students from 27 large school districts, including San Diego, Boston, Los Angeles, Houston and others, took part in what communities use as a tool for comparing their students with peers across the country. In an interview Monday with the Tampa Bay Times, Hillsborough superintendent Jeff Eakins said the results were a "win" for the community, and he credited the district’s classroom teachers and academic support programs for preparing students.

"These kids are going to be highly competitive for jobs when they graduate," Eakins said.

Hillsborough business leaders also hailed the results, saying they pointed to an edge for the bay area in its efforts to attract quality employers. They noted Tampa’s appeal as a destination for digital-savvy millennials, and healthy job growth in the fields of STEM industries — science, technology, engineering and math. New employers want a premium workforce, and Craig J. Richard, chief executive of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, said the results show "highly skilled talent and a robust pipeline of well-educated students coming from our local K-12 and higher education systems."

Some skeptics of the rankings suggest the national comparisons are skewed because Hillsborough does not have the same concentrations of poverty as other large, urban districts, which can pose greater challenges to the learning environment. But that should not detract from the value of a nationwide snapshot that examines Hillsborough’s performance with similar-sized districts. Every community has its own characteristics. These rankings provide one of many windows for urban counties as they explore how to raise academics in the formative years as children move toward college and the workforce.

As excited as local officials are with the rankings, Hillsborough faces serious challenges in the years ahead in finding adequate financial resources. Facing a multibillion dollar price tag for unmet maintenance needs and new school construction, the district will need to convince the public it is taking all steps possible to comb through its programs and consolidate facilities to channel more money to the classroom. School Board elections this year are an opportunity for voters to assess where the district is going, how nimbly it is reacting to financial pressures and how committed board members are to making the difficult decisions to ensure long-term success in the classroom. Today’s news is a welcome step in that debate and a reminder of how a school district’s impact goes far beyond each campus.

Comments
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18