Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don't let failing schools off the hook

The argument that Imagine Charter School in St. Petersburg should not be closed for poor student performance because other failing public schools are doing even worse is not persuasive. The performance at all of those schools, including Imagine, is not acceptable. The Pinellas School Board was right to shut down Imagine's elementary program, and the board members and superintendent Mike Grego should be just as aggressive in their efforts to improve the other schools.

Charter schools are about offering parents options. The schools run by private groups — some for-profit, some not — collect per-student funding just like public schools but are freed from many of the requirements placed on traditional public schools. Charter schools, for example, have looser requirements for complying with the state's class-size limits. Their students still take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and are assessed under the state's accountability system. And that has been the downfall of Imagine Charter's K-5 program. (The school's grade 6-8 program is not closing.)

Since opening in 2008, the K-5 program has collected just one grade above an F, a D in 2011. Performance on this year's FCAT suggests its 2013 grade will be just as abysmal. There also have been other concerns about Imagine, including the high rent it pays its parent company for its facility in St. Petersburg.

Most concerning for parents, of course, is that the majority of the 243 children affected by the Imagine closure are zoned for similarly failing public schools, including two under state supervision, as a Tampa Bay Times article detailed Thursday. But keeping one more poor-performing provider in the mix isn't a solution. Grego, still shy of his first anniversary as superintendent, has begun marshaling forces in hopes of turning those schools around, including switching out teachers and principals, launching an innovative summer school that has attracted several thousand students, and after-school programs for struggling students. But the district should be on notice. Poor performance that is not acceptable at a charter school is just as unacceptable at other public schools.

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‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18